Digital Guide de l’annonceur

Marketing: how can you take on a big competitor?

, 24 September 2018

Some fights seem to be lost before they even begin. And certain types of business completely closed to new entrants. And yet: there’s not a single market on earth where the barriers to entry are impassable. Launching a new soda, a new bank, a new accounting solution, it’s possible, despite the big players in these sectors. The solution can be found in marketing. Adopting a pragmatic marketing strategy and activating the right levers can nibble away at market share of any giant. Let’s discover how!

Dive into a blue ocean

Whatever your size, there is no point in tackling a giant head-on by exactly mimicking their product, service, value chain, and communications. Even an existing multinational with a lot of resources will try to differentiate itself before challenging another big fish. There’s every reason to think that a young company has to do likewise.

Marketing is also about choosing positioning at the very beginning of product design. In essence, to position oneself in a market involves differentiating yourself from the competition. This difference will determine your central target. In this matter, you want to navigate as much as possible in a blue ocean. This strategy consists of creating out of nothing a new demand in a gap in the market space (the famous blue ocean), rather than attacking an already overcrowded space of existing suppliers (red ocean).

Whether you’re for or against them is not the point, we can’t deny the real success of Emmanuel Macron’s « En Marche! » enterprise!, starting from nothing, and knocking out the heavyweights of their « market » in less than a year. (photo credit: EM)

You can believe it or not, but a recent, flamboyant, French example, of a blue ocean strategy, as reported by the economic newspaper La Tribune (article in French), is the En Marche movement!, launched by Emmanuel Macron . In less than a year, the “start-up” wiped out the two incumbent dinosaur parties and allowed its founder to take the reins of the world’s fifth power, nothing less. How? By initially presenting En Marche! as a citizen movement rather than a party, by adopting a hybrid position (“neither right nor left”), and a different offer, symbolized by a young man under 40 years old, against the aging candidates of other camps . The rest is history.

Attack a niche

Even if you are about to enter a mass market, you must absolutely resign yourself to choosing a narrower target. That doesn’t mean that you’ll lose potential customers. Attempting to talk to everyone is ultimately not talking to anyone, because your discourse, being too generalist, can’t resonate with possible consumers. Big brands have the means to produce different messages according to the target, and to bombard the entire market with massive poster campaigns. Not you.

(Photo credit:

By the way, if you have to choose a segment in terms of age, we recommend aiming at the youngest possible. Younger people are more likely to drop a brand and give a new entrant a chance. Millennials are generally rather fickle. Teenagers even more so. Use this uniqueness to your advantage.

Bypass expensive channels

If you want to carry out a coup in an established market, time is against you. Some marketing channels only deliver their effects in the long run. But in the long run, you’re dead. As soon as they spot you, your competitor will try to destroy you. So go for safe, inexpensive, and immediate effect solutions. It sounds obvious, so what does it mean?

For example, press relations are built on a scale of months or years. It’ likely that journalists won’t take your foray into a market that seems already closed too seriously. They’ll probably wait for you to prove yourself. So no help from the press at first! Yet you need the media to reach your target: you can’t ignore any channel, there just aren’t that many! The solution then surely lies in the ordering of a sponsored article. For a few hundred euros, you’ll be able to guarantee media coverage on leading influential websites and blogs in your niche market. The ROI can hit 300% or more. And if you want to go even faster, go through a linking platform. Once you’ve made a breakthrough in your market, you can be sure the reporters will come to you.

Lumen5 makes it possible to embed titles on video sequences of your choice, and to produce dynamic montages, ideal for publishing on social networks. On the other hand, be more inspired than them for your titles (“Video content has become a rising star in the marketing world”). (Photo credit: Lumen5)

Similarly, video is certainly a major and lasting trend. But creating quality videos requires heavy investment or costly orders with a specialist studio. To make matters worse, imposing a new YouTube channel is a long-term effort. At first, use a social video solution. Kesako? It consists of short videos that can be easily made on an online service by combining GIFs, free video stock and nice titles. In this respect, Lumen5 service is a real gem. Try it, the standard service is free.

Team up with influencers

Influencers are constantly trying to break codes, so they’ll look favorably on the incursion of a new player into the market that they’re interested in. So you’re speaking from the beginning to people who may be more receptive than journalists. If you want to become influential in a market, the best way is to gain the respect of existing influencers and then get them involved in your promotional campaign. The giant in your domain has already locked in the biggest influential figures in your community? No worries! Anyway mega-influencers were too expensive for you. So look to micro-influencers. They not only have higher engagement rates, they’re also the rising figures of your market!

Turn the spotlight on rising figures from the community you want to attract. The light will shine on your brand at the same time. (Photo credit: Jacqueline Day, Unsplash)

How can you get them involved? For example by teaming up for content creation. This strategy of “confluence” (contraction of content and influence) is the surest way to guarantee their enthusiasm and support, and to make a noticeable entry into the heart of the targeted community. Just be sure to consider the 4 key elements of confluence marketing.

It’s not just online marketing!

If you just limit yourself to online marketing, you’ll never play in the same league as your big competitors, and you’ll be forever condemned to play the role of challenger. For example, online banking N26 has made a spectacular comeback recently by using traditional physical channels, including outdoor and subway displays.

“Your bank is cheating on you”. The young N26 digital bank launched a massive poster campaign in the metro of several European capitals (here, Berlin), while still referring to its digital DNA, with this hashtag #nobullshit.

The incursion into real life will strengthen the credibility of your business. Of course it’s more expensive, so it’s better to reach a minimum size before you venture onto such networks. Bank N26 waited five years before taking the risk. It’s now about to enter the major league. After a certain size, offline marketing remains essential. Yes, even in 2018.

Large groups are often tied up in bureaucracy, and this is reflected in their marketing campaigns which aren’t very daring and use the same traditional channels. There are thousands of examples of start-ups shaking up established giants. Nobody said it was easy, but in this fight marketing is your best ally.

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