Last year we were contacted by a guy who wanted us to help them launch a site “just like Facebook”. Two months ago we were approached by a company who wanted to launch “the next eBay” and wanted our help. Although they had really big marketing budgets we turned both projects down. Let me explain why.
As a user, why would you use a site that is “just like Facebook” when you can use Facebook? Why would you use “the next eBay” when you can use the actual eBay. There are two different kinds of people who buy MP3 players: the ones who buy iPods and the ones that have to settle for less.
My point is that in any market there are always a few companies that set the trends and a whole bunch of smaller companies that copy everything they do. In all fairness, most small businesses don’t have the budgets to do a lot of research and develop new technologies or ideas. That’s why I think observing the market leaders and getting ideas from them is very smart. That being said, the core of your business has to make you unique. It has to set you apart from your competition. And, the best way to do this is to specialize.
There’s no room for another Facebook, but there’s room for a social network of wine enthusiasts. There’s no room for another eBay, but there’s room for a site where people buy and sell high-end paintings and photography.
The bottom line? Learn from the leaders in your market and by all means get some ideas from them, but make sure that you take a unique angle that really resonates with the audience you’re trying to target. Cover less ground but cover it better.
So, what makes YOUR business unique?