Here is an exciting start-up battle to learn from. Mobile billing payments is a new category (fresh market). No company yet dominates it (gorilla). Several companies are fighting for leadership position. Let's do a quick study of this war and learn something useful that you can apply to your start-up's marketing strategy and business execution.
Click here for a good explanation on how start-ups in this fresh market make their money (from Zong, one of the rising start-up stars in mobile billing payments).
Here are some observations and tips to think about:
- Who can produce the most value added? The appeal of the start-up's service must be to (a) merchants and (b) end users. That duo complexity opens the door to creative marketing people who can figure out clever ways to add value to a basic service and thereby become standouts.
- Will this turn into a commodity pricing war? The concept is very simple: pay for something from a mobile phone. The technology is simple to implement. Operations are simple to execute. Those are the easy parts. What is hard is to produce a service that is more than about the same as what the other companies are offering. That is where product marketing minds can go to work to figure out something to use to be different and more valuable.
- Who will be first to break out of the pack with a WOW! offering? Who is going to produce something that is a true standout, very different and highly exciting to either merchants or end users? I expect that to happen soon. The current competitors are too similar to not have somw clever person figure out how to break out soon. What works will surprise and delight us with its cleverness and effectiveness, of that I am sure.
There are many elements of a business to use to become a standout and emerge as the leader of a new market category. I've seen some focus on superior customer service while others executed operations to perfection. Others have become the pricing leader while the rest spread out to focus on other segments of the market: premium, high volume, international and so on. Some have emphasized trustworthiness by citing blue chip financial backing or longevity in the business or largest number of (countries, carriers, merchants, end users) whatever. Marketing people can be creative and bold. Here is where they can prove the power of their skills.
Stay tuned, this is marketing war is going to be fun to watch.
BOTTOM LINE: Who is going to break out of the pack to become the leader of this new wave? That's the prime question for this stage of a new market. The leader then has an opportunity to start gaining momentum, leaving the pack behind. That opens the race track that leads to becoming the new gorilla. Differentiation now become primary in the minds of the marketing people in each competing start-up. What is forthcoming will be fascinating to watch. There are dozens of ways to stand out. It will be clear soon, probably in 2011. Then we have to wait to see whose focus propels them into the lead position. When you know how to conduct such a marketing battle, you'll have added a very powerful element to your skill set. It is key to building an unfair competitive advantage.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!