In business, profit goes to the company with a sizable chunk of the market. In most cases, this is usually the companies in the top 3 position; first, second and third. This position is not determined by a regulatory body, but by their market size – the number of customers these business serve on a consistent basis. Market share is a numbers game. You are only as profitable as the number of client/customers patronizing your business.
I have often said this, if your business is not a force to reckon with in the particular industry or niche you belong, you are as good as dead. When your industry or niche is being mentioned, which companies come up as reference points? Is your company among them? Is your company a threat to your industry or niche? If your answer to this question is NO, then there’s much work to be done. Let’s get down to business!
What is a market share?
In very simple terms, market share is the number of loyal customers your business or company has been able to retain over a long period of time.
The key word in this definition is LOYAL.
Without this word [loyal], you can’t say you’ve got any market share. After all, a share of anything is that portion which you can confidently call your own by virtue of title. Meaning, you don’t own a share of something without an evidence or proof of ownership. In the business world, your proof of market share ownership is the number of repeat [loyal] customers patronizing your business per time. When it comes to market share, first time customers are irrelevant.
The criteria is not how many people who bought from you, but rather how many people regularly buy from you. The focus is on retention and not attraction alone. It’s about bringing them and keeping them. In other words, market share is about creating fans, followers, believers or addicts of your company, business, product or service. These are not just people who buy from you, these are people have bought into you. Meaning, they have been converted from mere customers to disciples of all that your business represent. Your proof of ownership is their continuous patronage [loyalty].
If you have ever seen a football fan of a particular club, say Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester, you’ll better understand this concept of market share. These fans don’t just like football, their love for football has transcended from the general game of football to a particular kind of football -the games played by their favorite club. This level of interest is not accidental, it is not coerced, it’s a choice. Market share is all about preference; choosing to give your money repeatedly to a particular company or business over a long period of time based on certain factors that appeal to you personally.
Market share is intentional, people choose you instead of others because there’s something SIGNIFICANT [unique, unusual, extra-ordinary, different, special] about you. Market share is people identifying with your business, company, product, or services. It doesn’t come by chance; it can only be intentionally created.
Creating Your Own Share of the Market
You are not going to have them lining up behind your business as followers, so don’t bother waiting for them. Your best bet is to create followers by becoming a leader yourself. Here is how to achieve this;
1. Differentiate your business
The first step to creating your own share of the market by becoming a leader people want to follow is to differentiate your business. Differentiating your business means being able to clearly define the specific value creation processes of your business and deciding the particular area you want to specialize on.
For example, all automobile companies manufacture cars, but not all specialize in particular areas. Volvo for instance focuses on safety by ensuring their cares are made up of strong body parts capable of protecting the occupants in the event of accidents. The impact of limiting a Volvo car will not be as that of limiting a posh car.
A posh on the other hand, runs faster than a Volvo as the manufactures focuses on speed. Two car companies; both in the same automobile industry, but doing different businesses. One is in the business of manufacturing safe cars, so they invest more on body parts. The other is in the business of manufacturing fast cars, so they invest more on high velocity engines.
This simple distinction is how leadership is being created in the market. This is how loyalty is formed as different people prefer different things per time. As result, safety conscious people choose Volvo cars instead of posh cars and speed lovers, prefer posh instead of Volvo. At the same time, some customers prefer both and so they buy from both manufacturers.
It is very erroneous to think all companies in the same industry or niche do the same business. As I’ve always emphasized, no two businesses are the same even though they operate in the same industries, just as no two siblings are the same even though they are products of the same parent.
So, your first task in creating your own share of the market is to carve out your own share of the market. As I pointed out in the football analogy earlier, there is a general love for the game, but fans of a particular club don’t just love football, they love a particular kind of football, the kind played by their club.
In essence that, all clubs play the general game of football but all clubs don’t play the same way. In the same manner, all automobile manufacturers make cars, but they don’t make cars the same way. The distinction lies in the value creation process. In other words, “how” you create value is what matters and not “what” the market generally perceive as value.
Therefore, creating your own share of your market begins by creating your own unique kind of value that is different from the general kind of value currently obtainable in the market. This simple distinction is what differentiating your business is all about. Its realizing that you all may be in the same industry or niche but don’t do business the same way. You’ll find this distinction by breaking down the value creation process and deciding on which area to specialize on base on your core competencies and available resources.
2. Know your target customers
Every leader attracts their own kind of followers. That you are a leader doesn’t mean everyone is going to line up behind you, certainly not. So, it is your task as the leader to seek out your own kind of followers.
How is this done?
By narrowing your search. This is what the term target customers mean. You have to be able to clearly describe the profit of your ideal follower as a leader.
How does he/she think? Where does he/she go to? Where does he/she live? How does he/she behave? What challenges or problems does he/she face? What does he/she perceive as value? What are their dreams ambitions, goals, desires, or needs? How do you get across with them? All of these questions are not obvious; they are hidden sometimes unknown to the customers themselves.
This is where market research becomes crucial knowing your customers is about getting up close and personal with them. You have to be prepared put yourself in their shoes. You have to be prepared to be patient, attentive and compassionate. Their fear must become your fear, their problems, your problem, their needs, your needs you must become a servant in order to lead them. You must be will to put yourself second and put them first.
Knowing your customers is about understanding the human nature. You have to familiarize yourself work stuffs, like motivation [what moves people to act] psychology [why do people do like they do], perception [how people receive and spread information and other areas of human natures].
I know all these can be intimidating, but believe me when I say this, they are all common sense. The best way to go about them is to become like the target customers. Put yourself in their shoes, think like they do, go to the places they go, do the things they do, value what they value
To attract them you have to be one of them, period.
3. Promote your business
You cannot attract the right kind of followers you want for your business if they don’t know about your existence.
After all is said and done, it is the business, company, product or service that is known to the target customers that will gain a large market share. This is a very vital element of the steps needed to increase your business market share. It’s just common sense; people buy from those they know. So here is the question, how many people know about your business, company, product or service?
Like I said earlier, market share is a numbers game so it calls for a lot of marketing efforts from you. You have to constantly put your business, company, product or services in the public’s eye. If you operate on a local level you have to think going to the state level, from the state to the national level, from national to global.
You have to keep increasing your reach. Get the story about your business, company, product and services out there where those you want as followers can find you.
What options are available to you for doing this?
1. Social Media: The internet is fast becoming the world’s most populous domain. You cannot phantom the number of people and the number of hours spent online. So, if you are serious about promoting your business go online. You can read this article on Inbound Marketing by Marcus for more information on how to do this.
2. Branding: A brand is the difference between a business and a company. If all you are is a business then you are dead. People don’t become fans, followers, believers or addicts of businesses, they identify with companies.