Conventional wisdom  tells us that before starting a small business it is important to research the marketplace to identify opportunities. Too many entrepreneurs and small business owners take this advice literally and abandon great ideas because they deem their chosen market to be saturated. Don’t fall into this mindset and miss out on great opportunities. Instead, search for ways to provide value and thrive despite the saturation.
How to Thrive in Saturated Markets
Do It Better
One of the best ways to enter a seemingly saturated market is to provide better products or services. I sat down and spoke with Joe Daley, a member of a group of entrepreneurs and freelancers who were dissatisfied with jobbing websites and decided they could do better. He shared with me the following. “What most freelance sites seem to be lacking is quality freelancer and clients. With so many people wanting to find freelance work, I feel some of the freelance sites grew too quickly and didn’t watch the quality of freelancers they were letting in,”
“When we started FreelanceMyWay  we wanted to focus on a very easy to use interface, quality freelancers, clients and incredible customer support. All our freelancers must fill out an application that is reviewed by our quality assurance team and only 3% of all applicants get into our community. We also review all job postings to make sure it’s a good fit for our freelance community. We’re going to go above and beyond to make sure our users are satisfied with our service.”
This startup is finding success in a truly saturated market because they identified the weaknesses in the current providers and are delivering a better service.
Find a Niche
In saturated markets, especially those dominated by large national or regional providers, look for profitable but overlooked niches  that you can serve. For example, if you want to start a home cleaning service, market to affluent homeowners who have elderly parents. The homeowners probably already have a cleaning service but may be concerned about the cleanliness of their parents’ home. This underserved niche may provide amazing opportunities for a savvy entrepreneur. Whatever your business choice, drill deeper than the competition and find the underserved niche that will serve as your entryway into the marketplace.
No matter what product or service you want to provide, study the market and select ways to be distinctive  from what is already available. A great way to achieve this is to find a common customer problem or complaint and solve it. A distinction can come in a variety of forms that can include offering personalized products, making a different style or color of product, offering a delivery service, adding a personal touch through communication or special offers and excellent customer service. The choice you make will depend on the product or service you provide but find a way to make your mark in the marketplace to attract a loyal clientele.
A great way to stand out from the crowd in a saturated market is to deliver consistent, value-added communication to your target audience. Many smaller companies and startups do not prioritize blogs or social media engagement because they have so many other tasks on their to-do list. The key is to work smarter by leveraging new technologies specifically designed to make blogging, social media posting and other engagement easier. Providing consistent content that goes beyond announcing the next sale allows customers to connect with you on a deeper level that will result in a loyal customer base.
Look to Other Industries for Inspiration
One of the biggest marketing successes in the fast food industry was when Subway billed itself as a healthy alternative to traditional fast food options. Whether they are healthier or not is debatable, but the key is that they didn’t follow their competition, but instead used marketing techniques that were successful in another industry , specifically fitness. Their hired spokesperson had lost weight by eating their products and touted their fresh ingredients and low calorie counts long before anyone else appreciated the value of this tactic. When considering a saturated market, think about how your product or service is related to another industry. Target successful companies in that industry and identify the customer service, marketing, and product strategies they have used which you can apply to make your business a standout.
A saturated market doesn’t mean lack of opportunities, it just requires additional effort to find success. Providing better services, developing an underserved niche, and providing a distinctive product or services are great ways to make a place for yourself in that market. Also, don’t forget the benefits of value-added communication and don’t be shy about applying great ideas from other industries to your own efforts. You can find success in a saturated market as long as you find a way to stand out from the crowd.
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