Don’t misconstrue – challenger brands have been around since the dawn of time. It’s just that somebody somewhere decided to give the classic ‘underdog’ business a more modern handle.
If you operate any kind of business that’s up against bigger and more successful competition, you officially qualify as a challenger brand. Technically speaking therefore, pretty much every new business startup falls into this category.
At least, unless the respective entrepreneur has come up with something 100% unique, which is unlikely.
However you label your business, you’re an underdog for the time being and will remain as such indefinitely. But this doesn’t mean that every underdog hasn’t every opportunity to succeed. Just as long as you approach things strategically, there’s no telling how far you could take your challenger brand – whatever it is you do.
Seek Like-Minded Partnerships
For one thing, strength in numbers is absolutely something you should be focusing on. Rather than attempting to deal with the big dogs alone, why not form alliances and partnerships with smaller brands facing the same struggles as you? Try to pinpoint businesses that are well and truly within your niche, though aren’t your direct competitors. For example, if you sell computer hardware, why not team up with a company that sells printer cartridges and other consumables?
Identify Their Weaknesses
The key to success as a challenger brand lies in offering something the current market-leaders cannot. If it seems impossible to topple such an enormous and established company, think about what Uber has done to the global taxi industry. Or what Netflix did to Blockbuster video. All you need to do is identify any current weaknesses in their operations and use them to your advantage. Whatever it is they fail to offer, this could become your USP of limitless appeal and value.
Be Careful with Cash
Attempting to get by and ultimately succeed as an underdog means planning ahead long-term. Try to remember that it is a marathon, rather than a sprint. As such, you need to be extremely careful with your cash and operating capital in general. The smaller the business and the more fragile its position, the easier it is to make a mistake at the worst possible time and sink. Eliminate unnecessary expense, focus on whatever guarantees you the best possible ROI and try to minimise overheads wherever possible.
Last but not least, attempting to go it alone can be a great way of minimising expense. Unfortunately, there’s only so much any entrepreneur can handle. Not only this, but working solo means limiting yourself to your own skills, knowledge and experience. Irrespective of the need to minimise expenses, you are going to have to hire help to one extent or another. From web content production to graphic design to website development to marketing and so on, these are all the kinds of core duties you may be better off outsourcing. Even if you can’t afford to hire permanent employees, it’s always worth considering freelance markets to diversify your capabilities.