“Competitors do it better and cheaper”

Last week, I had a meeting with Miss Hien, another entrepreneur, and we had two very different visions about how to become number one in a market.

Hien’s approach was based on defining a market, looking at what competitors are doing and how much market shares her own company could acquire. And when looking at my new product I wanted to demonstrate to her, she was very doubtful and told me I could never compete because so many other companies were doing this already.

My approach was to focus on the problem you are solving. It is very different: no matter how many competitors there are, as long as people still have this problem, there is space for your business to exist and a chance for being the most attractive solution.

And I have a proven experience with my former hostel in Saigon where I became number one in Ho Chi Minh City. So this article is going to give you the best action items you can apply now for your business. I will share concrete examples. I will also talk about the “blue ocean strategy” which is very inspiring if you are looking for long term success and make the competition irrelevant.

In the end of this article, with both of our approach, from Hien and myself, you have no more excuses to not become number one in the next few months! 😉

Become number one in my market – how I did it.

I am sorry to disappoint my former business-teachers… but I didn’t play by the book:

🤣 I wasn’t looking at market studies or checking my competitors websites too much.

🙈 I wasn’t doing any benchmarking or business plans before launching…

I refused to waste my time studying this. Instead I went all in into connecting with travelers (myself?) and providing solutions to what they felt was missing in Saigon’s hospitality scene at that moment.

I did two things, mainly:

  1. I was focusing on solving my existing clients problems and building a connection with them to keep them 5-star-satisfied.
  2. I was looking for inspiration in other businesses… not my competitors, but other businesses who are the best at solving their customers problems.

Solve your customer’s problems first

When the idea came up, I discovered two things:

  1. Hostels are all located in the city center, the most touristy area… but the most interesting life in the city was not there! It’s where locals live. So I decided to base my hostel in District 10; a very local, vibrant and more authentic area.
  2. Most travelers would only stay 2 nights. While I was here for many years… so what could I possibly offer them to experience – that is so attractive about this city – to convince them to stay longer? By answering this question, I could increase average stay from 2 nights to 4.5 nights (and some guests would stay months!).

My ongoing strategy was:

To go and talk with my existing clients and ask them how was their experience and if there was anything to improve or anything they see should be done differently.

By sharing, my customers felt listened and trusted. And doing so was giving me the opportunity to solve their problems on the spot in 90% of the cases!

Small things but easy to provide a quick solution.

Show you can solve problems makes it easier to collect 5 star reviews. The more satisfied customers, the more customers come to your place.

Understand your market is essential though!

During this meeting. She gave me very good reasons to follow her approach. So please also listen to Hien’s advice too.

It is essential to know what your competition is offering so you can know what their users / clients are complaining about and why they don’t buy there.

This is reminding me deeply about a book: “The Blue Ocean Strategy” where you study your market and analyse your competitors strategy so that you can find a way to stand out, reach out to unexplored customers and avoid to fight on quality or pricing face to face with the competitors.

The BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY is written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. This book is for entrepreneurs, founders, marketers, or managers that are interested in marketing strategy. It’s especially relevant for businesses that need to differentiate themselves within a highly competitive industry.

Here is a Youtube video summary of this book by Youtuber Rick Kettner:

This how I understand the approach Miss Hien has: become an insider of your own market, so you gain credibility and can make better decisions.

It is essential that you know where you set foot and what other players are doing.

So now, with all these advise; from my experience, Miss Hien’s approach and The Blue Ocean Strategy, you have no more excuses to not become number one of your market in the next 18 months!

What else is missing? What is the number one blocking issue for you to become number one today?