Being the new kid on the block can be intimidating. But in today’s crowded space, a fresh face can be a valuable asset to consumers. As part of an ongoing series, iMedia asked twelve young entrepreneurs: What competitive edge do new brands have in the market that should be taken advantage of?
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Building a reputation from scratch is easier than fixing one later
Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.
“Many of the large brands that we work with are facing the battle of trying to re-engage with their target audience, and rebuild a tarnished brand image. New brands have the advantage that if they do things right they can authentically engage with customers right away and build a loyal following.”
You can afford to focus on smaller niches
John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation
“There are lots of opportunities that are too small for a billion-dollar brand to go after but which would make a nice $5M+ business. Think about what customers are under-served in a given market. For example, car rental agencies do a terrible job of offering premium service and real luxury vehicles. While they need to focus on volume, I bet someone could get off the ground by leasing three BMWs.”
You can flaunt what makes you unique
Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations
“Timeless business principle, but true — If you specialize in something, flaunt it. Just look at how hot startups Uber and Airbnb disrupted the taxi and hotel industry. Their competitive edge rocked large travel companies in an industry that’s outdated and not seen as sexy or glamorous. By showcasing why they’re unique, customers realized that both brands solved problems they never knew they had when traveling.”
You can engage your customers in a personal way that established brands can’t
Ben Lyon, Kopo Kopo, Inc.
“Newer brands have the opportunity to create a unique and relatable personality from the onset. By using a warm tone, avoiding jargon and interacting with customers on social media, you can build a brand that people engage in the same way they’d engage a friend.”
You can position yourself as an alternative to the competition
Shawn Porat, Fortune Cookie Advertising
“When your brand is new, you can focus on the shortcomings of your competition, while they can’t do the same as you don’t yet have a solid reputation (good or bad). You can identify what customers are most frustrated by and explain how your brand is going to solve these issues. That’s why it’s important for new businesses to research the market and identify problems that haven’t been solved yet.”
You already know what everyone hates
Adam Stillman, SparkReel
“As a new company, you have the opportunity to say to the consumer, “We see the same problem you see. We are the solution.” For example, the airline industry is a punchline. Virgin America decides it’s a good idea to not have an overall feeling of disdain for their customer and they have an outstanding approval rating.”
You face less risk (and lower cost) to enter the market
Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME
“New brands have the advantage of market and product knowledge that other brands have usually paid for before — often in the form of costly trial/error procedures and product development. New brands can see what’s been done and which market needs haven’t been satisfied yet. With that information, they can build their competitive advantage.”
You can give great customer service faster and better than older peers
Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
“New brands have the ability to deliver stellar customer service in new and innovative ways that older brands might be slower to adopt — for example, taking reservations or allowing customers to buy products via social media.”
Embrace the mystique
Robert Glazer, Acceleration Partners
“The key competitive edge that new brands have is that they’re new. People are attracted to things they’ve never seen or tried before. New brands should be taking advantage of the mystique they have in the marketplace because the window of time they have to take advantage of being new is somewhat small.”
You have far greater flexibility
Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
“New brands have a lot more flexibility than older, more established brands. When early adopters use your product differently than you had imagined or ask for additional features, new brands can quickly pivot to meet those needs and improve the product. This kind of flexibility can help you to build your product into something that your early adopters love and begin to rely on, leading to growth.”
You have full freedom to experiment and even fail
Brewster Stanislaw, Inside Social
“Established brands have expectations from both customers and the market. This limits the freedom to experiment with new and/or different brand messaging and marketing. As a new brand, you are unencumbered with expectations and free to try things. Crazy things. A new brand should embrace failure in its marketing positioning. It’s OK to try and fail as you establish your voice in the marketplace.”
You can make decisions quickly and progress faster
Erik Severinghaus, Simple Relevance
“New brands have the opportunity to — and requirement of — embracing innovation. Their advantage of making decisions and putting them into action immediately without red tape keeps them two steps in front of their bureaucratic counterparts.”
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