Indulge me in a little "back in my day" moment. When I was offered my first Head of Marketing role, it was in an industry I didn't know, riddled with  competition, and during the recession. And I walked ten miles each morning to get there, in the snow! (Just kidding)

The project sounded pretty crazy, being that there were so many other businesses just like it and for the first two years, I constantly felt like we were the "underdog." But year three, everything shifted. We were steadily growing and signing new business, while our major competitors were forced to close their doors. The reason for this shift was as simple as us tapping into a little service that our customers desperately wanted.

If you're wondering about the wisdom of entering a crowded market, you wouldn't be the first. Many entrepreneurs in their scramble to be unique try to come up with a product or service that's never been seen before, and make a billion dollars overnight. But the thing about those rags to riches stories? They're mostly found in fairytales.

You've heard time and again that there's no need to reinvent the wheel. The problems with trying to launch a brand-new product are several. First of all, you have a steep learning curve as you educate investors and seek to gain customer buy-in for your idea. You'll also face the challenge of luring consumers away from a way of doing things that they're comfortable with to take a chance on an an unknown entity.

Author of Built to Sell, John Warrillow, says "if there is no competition for your idea, chances are, there is no market either." That's not to be overly negative, but there is prudence in trying to position your company in a crowded market. You know there's a sizable demand for what you want to sell for starters, you can pick up tips and copy ideas, and figure out what you can do to make the existing offer better. All of this without tearing your hair out in a basement.

Right now, blockchain is "in" and of course, hundreds of these businesses are cropping up. Some older fintech companies are scrambling to add blockchain to keep themselves relevant in the market. This new age of blockchain presents a powerful lesson to all of us about market differentiation.

Here are a few insights.

Believe in Your Story

Having a unique story can help to position yourself in a crowded space, such as the blockchain market, with thousands of ICOs cropping up over the last year. If your story stands out, you'll be more appealing to customers and your voice will rise above the hundreds (or thousands) of competitors singing the same song; whether it's lower pricing, faster service, or easier use.

According to Shidan Gouran, COO of Global Blockchain Technologies Corporation, what it takes for a blockchain company to really make an impact is believing in your story and solving a real problem. "It's easy to create hype by claiming to offer a blockchain-based product or service. But unless it has a noticeable impact on the users compared to a non-blockchain solution, it will fail to have an impact on any market," he says.  

It's also important to know your value proposition off the bat. "A solid use for blockchain can be articulated with its value proposition in plain English. You can chit-chat your way into making any half-baked idea sound good. A truly solid idea won't need all of this, with its merits explainable in a very short summary."

Don't Try to Capture All of The Market

It's unlikely that your product or service will appeal to everyone, so don't try to capture all of the market. Instead, focus on your buyer personas and the people who will turn into advocates for your brand. Think quality over quantity. Why sign 100 small contracts when you can seal one or two larger orders by focusing on a niche? The same holds true in the blockchain market, where the companies that are really excelling are the ones coming up with very specific ideas.

Chain, San Francisco, for example, was recently named as one of nine blockchain companies on the Forbes 50 Fintech for 2018. Why is it causing such a stir? Because the company is not trying to sell its technology to everyone, but targeting financial institutions instead, as well as creating ledger balance software for ecommerce and fintech companies.

Be Exceptionally Good at One Thing

Beyond ICOs and Bitcoin, the most compelling use for blockchain so far is provenance tracking for the supply chain, according to Gouran. He says, "For premium goods, such as imported wine, it is important to track not just the movement of the bottles, but also identifying features to be sure that this product is exactly what the customer paid for. This doesn't just ensure that the product received was the product shipped - it also keeps the right parties accountable for when something goes wrong."

Ambrosus is one such blockchain company exceptionally good at coming up with solutions to fix the chinks in the supply chain. By combining blockchain protocol, smart contracts, and high-tech sensors, they are able to build a community-driven ecosystem that assures the origin, destination, quality and safety of items in the supply chain.

So the major lesson here is, if you're entering a crowded market, stop to think about it first. Before you go to market, guns blazing, be sure to know your story, focus on a niche and be exceptionally good at what you do.