When car rental company Avis launched a marketing campaign with the strapline “We aren’t number one, we are number two – it means we try harder”, challenger brands, the company formation and SME sector all took note. It seemed that even in the competitive and dynamic world of marketing, bigger is not always better. But if you are entering a competitive market space how does a recent company formation hope to gain market share against larger competitors with bigger budgets?
Product First, Promotion Second
One of the most important things for any recently formed company is to first establish what the consumer wants and then develop a product that gives it to them. There is no better form of promotion than a personal endorsement , says leading brand consultant Tom Weston. “Even if you are up against a large competitor, a customer will always want the best possible product for their money.” He adds.
It is also important to ensure that your brand positions itself differently against your competitors. While you may manufacture a generic product, offer the customer a point of difference by creating a strong set of brand values.
According to Weston, it is vital you ensure your product is of the utmost quality before you launch. Customers have a low tolerance for mistakes in new products; attention to detail is a must.
Use marketing wisely
Mark Williams, CEO of challenger brand Bargain Hotels, explains that though he now has more resource available to direct into marketing, he still prefers to employ innovative strategy rather than embracing mass marketing. “Just because we have more money, our marketing must be innovative and strategic – return on investment is always my bottom line.”
Due to the fact that, for Williams, any marketing spend must be quantified it comes as no surprise that he invests heavily in online advertising. From affiliates to Facebook, online marketing allows you advertising control, targeting and transparency.
“Obviously as a recent company formation at the start up stage, keeping costs down is imperative. We could not afford to employ a big advertising agency like our larger competitors, so we had to find more innovative ways to communicate with our customers. Advertising online offered the perfect solution.”
Instead of taking on the large expense and commitment of hiring an advertising agency Williams took on the responsibility for promoting his company himself – who else could communicate his passion better than him, he felt. Williams created a buzz around budget hotels and as the recession began to take hold, there was no better hook.
“I became very active in social media – blogging, twittering and facebook all gave me a platform to create a buzz about our brand. As a consequence we were able to communicate with our customers in a very bespoke way and, in turn, they developed a personal relationship with our brand.”
Though Williams has now hired an in-house PR professional, he is still very much involved. “I am the face of our brand; I am passionate about the way it is communicated. This has resulted in a very loyal customer base and one which continues to expand.”