Section E. Spy on the Competition
OK, time to do your best James Bond spy impression. Grab a martini (shaken, not stirred), grab your spy goggles, and let’s take a peek at what your competitors are doing.
What you’re looking for are gaps in the market, poorly positioned products, or other competitors whom you can dominate.
Contrary to popular belief, a niche market that’s barren of competitors isn’t necessarily a good find. Some people think it indicates there’s a market to exploit. You can almost see the dollar signs lighting up in their eyes.
But that’s not always the case. Sometimes a low number of competitors may indicate that the market isn’t able and willing to spend money on solutions.
In other words, don’t be afraid if you see a lot of competition in a particular market. Consider it a good sign, as it tells you that the market is big enough to support a lot of products and competitors. And if you can find a gap in part of the market – meaning an underserved part of the market – or if you just position yourself well to attract a subset of the overall market, then you can carve yourself off a nice slice of the market.
So, what does a market gap look like? Here are a couple examples:
Example #1: There are several really popular competing apps available for the iPhone, but you don’t see a similar strong competitor app built for the Android. You might consider creating an app for that market segment.
Example #2: You see information products (such as videos or home study courses) that are targeted at beginners or advanced users, but you see a gap for intermediate members of the market. You might create a product to serve those in the middle.
Those are just generic examples to get you thinking about your own niche. So let me give you a real example…
Think about the types of cell phones you see today. Most of them are absolutely loaded with features, from cameras to advanced technology to run a variety of apps, play music, get on the web, video conference and so on. And it seems like each phone that hits the market has more features than the others.
These sorts of smart phones really appeal to the younger generation. However, a company named Jitter Bug spotted a gap in the market. Namely, they noticed that there was a certain segment of cell phone users, usually older people, who weren’t interested in all the bells and whistles typically found on later model cell phones and smart phones.
You see, this market just wanted to use the cell phone as a phone. They weren’t interested in texting, taking photos or connecting to the web. They didn’t want an app on their phone that played the guitar. They didn’t want to play Angry Birds. And they’d rather cover themselves in honey and lie on a fire ant hill than have an app that farted.
Simply put, this market segment just wanted a plain ol’ phone.
Jitter Bug filled that gap by creating a big-buttoned, easy-to-use phone. In the United States, you can see their advertisements on TV and in magazines which appeal to older people.
Point is, Jitter Bug looked at a huge market of cell phone users and carved off a nice niche for themselves by targeting older users and those who simply weren’t interested in smart phones. That’s what you call finding a gap in the market and filling it.
Now, the good news is that you can do the same thing. You’ll need to spend a little time researching your market, though. Here are three quick and easy steps to take…