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Identifying gaps in the market

Most businesses strive to be better than their competition. But rather than constantly trying to beat your competitors at their own game, why not find a whole new game and become the winning player? 

Sometimes the biggest opportunity can be to fill a gap in the marketplace that your competitors have missed. Instead of trying to be like them, or better than them, try to work out what they have overlooked: the products or services that they that they don’t offer, that you could. Finding – and then servicing – these ‘gaps’ in the market can unlock a previously untapped revenue stream.

The key is to know where to look for these new business opportunities – work out where the viable gaps in the market are and then know how to capitalize on them.

Listen to your customers

The best way to identify a service ‘dead spot’ is to talk to your customers. Pay close attention to their questions, their feedback on your service, and their comments on your competitors’ services. Try to ascertain:

  • What are their expectations when they first make contact?
  • Are they asking for services that aren’t part of your current repertoire?
  • What do they like/dislike about your competitors?

Identify customer ‘pain points’

A ‘pain point’ is something that bothers people about a service sector, eg: reliability, cost, quality of workmanship, poor follow-up service, punctuality or duration of building works.

Find out what the most common ‘pain points’ are for your sector: there could be a business opportunity in addressing one or several of them.

Understand your competitors’ strengths – and weaknesses

This is where the SWOT analysis can come in handy: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Knowing your competitors’ strengths will help you identify gaps in the services you offer; knowing their weaknesses will help you identify gaps in theirs. This can help you pinpoint any needs in the market that
are not currently being met.

New technology, legislation and trends = new opportunities

Within the housing industry, legislations and standards are constantly being introduced or changed. Being across these changes as they come into effect can present new directions for your business or open up new opportunities. This principle also applies to new technologies and trends. These are constantly evolving so stay informed and you’ll spot the opportunities before your competitors do.

Service delivery

Sometimes a market gap can be filled by devising a new form of service delivery or a fresh take on a business model. Look at how you deliver your product or service and how you engage with your customers. A new delivery method could prove a lucrative niche. How can you change or improve the traditional service delivery for your sector?

Target a different clientele

Can you make your product or service appeal to a different target market?

Many companies have carved out a fresh niche by simply refocusing their marketing at a less ‘traditional’ audience: for example, mechanics that aim their services at women. Think about who you and your competitors are selling to … then think about who else uses your services, and deploy your marketing efforts in their direction.

Following are some examples of business that have found success by recognizing, then filling, voids in the market.

  • Want It Now – tired of waiting days for her online shopping to arrive, the managing director of Sydney-based Mail Call Couriers recognised an opportunity to provide same-day delivery services for online fashion retailers. The company’s Want It Now brand now partners with many major online retailers in Sydney and Melbourne providing same day-delivery with real-time online and phone tracking.
  • Aussie Home Loans – John Symonds founded Aussie Home Loans after being unsatisfied with his dealings with a bank. His company’s unique approach – offering cheap loans, 24-hour service, and great customer service – created fierce competition with the banks, ultimately making home loans more accessible for everyday Australians (and making him very wealthy.)
  • Ikea – Ingvar Kamprad made furniture accessible, affordable and portable by inventing the flat-pack system, revolutionising the home furnishings industry.
  • Bunnings – in the mid-1950s Joe, Charles and Tom Bunning, who were running an already successful business established by their father, took advantage of the WA building boom and started selling hardware. After observing the success of new-style supermarkets were selling food, they decided to retail hardware the same way.