Crowded markets are becoming more and more commonplace in a world where it’s never been easier to start your own business. That’s not to say every competitor will be a direct competitor, but the markets are more crowded.
More products, more services, more businesses.
So as markets become more crowded, how can we cut through the noise to continue delivering value and stay relevant? It’s all about finding your whitespace, having a proposition that rises above the others, and selling into the whitespace – not scatter-gunning.
Finding your whitespace
Your whitespace is where a business identifies the unspoken needs of an audience as potential opportunities, as well as identifying an area of opportunity for the business to operate as a whole.
Finding your whitespace isn’t straightforward, but at The Zeitgeist, we find using a graph and axes to plot your whitespace is the most effective way of doing so and visually representing where your competitors fall on the scale.
It starts by choosing two values to plot against. For example, pick two things that define your business and plot against them.
The space at the top right is where you want your business to be. You might be elsewhere on the graph as things currently stand, but it’s a good way of visualising where you want to head.
Elsewhere on the graph, you can map where your competitors sit so you can then see who might “steal your food”.
Creating demand within your whitespace
Once you’ve found your whitespace, an area that you can operate in while maximising your potential, you have to find a way to stand out from the competition that might snap up your audience.
This all comes down to having a solid proposition and positioning statement. If you can really pin down your value proposition and position yourself as the only choice in the minds of your audience, you’ll be far more successful in selling into your whitespace.
But how do you stand out? By differentiating.
Your proposition and positioning have to illustrate how you’re a viable alternative to your competition. Consider what makes you stand out, what makes you different, and what you offer that no one else does.
Even if you offer the same products, why should your audience choose you over your competitors? It’s about offering value so you can stay relevant (as you’ll always hear us say).
It’s also worth mentioning that the relationships you build with your audience can make you stand out. If you build a community, offer a better customer experience, and generally have a better relationship then you can stand out and be a natural choice. Sometimes, better service trumps a better product – although you should always strive to have the best product.
There are a plethora of ways you could differentiate your product, service, or brand from the competition but the key way you’ll stand out is by having the best product. Constant iteration, customer journey mapping, UX and CX testing, and rounds of feedback will help you create this.
There are other ways to sell into your whitespace, too. It’s not just about operating as normal, it’s about consistently looking for new ways to innovate around an audience’s unmet and unidentified needs.
It sounds odd to say you can create demand for something without the customer knowing they need or want it, but if the product is good enough then, well, demand will be created.
You can innovate upon products you already have, as well. If your product is successful, how can you improve it? How can you add features, benefits, or spin-offs? Not only is it a way to match a customer’s unmet need, but it’s a way to extend the lifecycle of your product.
Furthermore, speak to your customers – past and present. It’s an underrated tactic, but the people that know your business and products the best are the people that buy from you. They might have already thought of the next big thing, so tap into that.
And while we’re on the subject, it’s worth considering talking to people that didn’t buy from you. People that are on your mailing list or dropped out of the sales cycle can tell you why they didn’t buy from you, giving you yet more inspiration for innovation.
Wrapping up the whitespace
Ultimately, finding your whitespace is about finding out where you’re different from the rest of the pack and acting upon it. You can use your proposition to demonstrate those differences, but by plotting your competitors on a graph based on what you offer you can truly begin to see the opportunities.
Outstanding CX is another way to operate within your whitespace, differentiating yourself from others by offering a seamless experience. The best products come with the best UX and CX, so your service has to match that to truly stand out.
At the end of the day, continuing to offer more value than others in your field is a surefire way to stand out. Value leads to relevance, and we all know that the most relevant businesses are the ones that survive.