How could early stage startups use entrenched competitors to their advantage?

By being really smart about their strategic gaps, and just marketing that advantage.

If the dominant player(s):

  • Lack a key integration
  • Aren’t focused on a key vertical
  • Lack a self-service or freemium version
  • Don’t automate an important workflow
  • Don’t focus on the bottom of the market, or the top of the market
  • Lack certain key analytics, dashboards, etc
  • etc. etc.

“Bigger Competitor is great for most things. But for salesteams, only Small Co automates _____. “

The entrenched competitors have established brands, which is their superpower.

But this also makes it very easy to honestly, without bravado, point out the gaps they’ve chosen not to fill. Many sophisticated customers will see that, too, once you highlight it.

For this strategy to work though, you really need to start with respect for your entrenched competitor. Without that, the prospects won’t really trust you when you claim you’ve closed / solved a key gap they haven’t yet.

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Published on September 7, 2018

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