Early in my career, I learned the valuable lesson of building a competitive advantage and using business development strategy to do so. In the mid-90’s I was the advertising and marketing director for a small daily newspaper in Troy, NY. If you've ever been to the Capital District of Upstate New York, you'll know that Troy is the smallest of the three major cities in the region which also include Schenectady and Albany. Because of the competitive nature of the market I learned that being different, being determined and understanding niche markets was a great way for me to compete.
Dealing with the competition isn’t the same for everyone of course however being different, being determined and understanding potential niche markets can prove to be an excellent strategy. In that market, all three organizations competed for the same business. We all tried to undercut one another on rate. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Overall it was difficult for me because the circulation of our daily was considerably lower than my competition and there was nothing I could do about that so instead getting into a rate war I decided to go another route. I created a niche product division to target specific revenue markets that the other newspapers weren’t targeting but had significant revenue potential. I developed a business development plan to identify those markets, understand the revenue potential, the cost to entry and a timeline to success.
That basic plan included:
Staff reallocation and hiring
Developing processes and procedures
Setting goals on revenue and activity
Developing KPI’s (key performance indicators)
Developing multiple tactics to reach prospects & partners
Setting Accountability measures to ensure success
I hired a sales person to specifically target those niche markets outside our regular products so they could brand themselves as the expert in those areas. I trained them how to prospect, sell, close and build relationships with the right prospects, partner organizations and associations. We were determined to make it work and after 9 months and following the plan we produced 3 new niche publications that brought in over $100,000 in new business.
As I mentioned, everyone is different when looking at their competition and how they should proceed with a plan, the point is you should have a plan, you should think differently, you should be determined and have an understanding of niche markets that can move the needle in your organization.