Spot a pain point. Relieve it. Then do it again.
That's the trick to starting a business, right?
Yes, but one of the keys to growing your business is replicating a product or service--and ensuring enough people ultimately buy into your concept. Here's what you can learn from some companies trying to perfect exactly this.
1. Out-Convenience Your Competition
Start by discovering what customers want, then make it more convenient than what's already available. Through his aunt, Peyman Aleagha learned that real estate agents often pay one company to design their website, another to host it, and yet another to create content for it. When he couldn't find a simple service that his aunt could use for her own real estate business, Aleagha decided to "create a solution that does it all."
Enter WebsiteBox, a one-stop, "do-it-all" shop that gives agents a code to activate their own, customized site and a startup guide that teaches them how to market their services online. The kit, which costs a one-time fee of $99, also includes about $500 worth of coupons for products and services from the likes of Google AdWords, Microsoft Bing, and WebsiteBox's app store, which sells additional features for $99 a pop (such as a service that publishes home listings on Craigslist or another that offers premium telephone support).
2. Strategically Market Your Message
Consider pitching your wares to industry brokers, trade associations, or other corporate groups, rather than specific individuals across an entire sector. It could save you a lot of time and advertising expenses.
WebsiteBox could have targeted individual real estate agents exclusively--there are around two million of them actively licensed in the U.S. But a more strategic move has been marketing to real estate brokers, who in turn have sold the kit to thousands of their agents or given it away as a recruiting tool in both the U.S. and Canada.
3. Perfect Your Pricing
At what price point would your product best fit?
More important: How would you get it to that price?
After spending years working at his family's denim factory in Honduras, and conducting some market research, Alejandro Chahin decided to aim for a retail price of less than $100 for a new line of jeans he wanted to roll out. To lower his manufacturing and distribution costs, the 28-year-old started selling directly to consumers (via Mott & Bow) and handled a lot of the production in-house, including cutting and sewing material as well as laundry-washing the denim. His final retail price? $96 per pair.
"We did a few test groups and $96 conveyed the message of expensive enough to be premium but not trying to trick the consumer into games like infomercials do by saying $99.99," says Chahin, who has been growing his customer base by about 15 percent each month. "Additionally, according to research, premium jeans are categorized in the price points upwards of $95.20."
4. Adequately Incentivize Your Team
Not many would want to live in a luxury staged home and be ready to leave whenever a real estate agent needed to show it--with just 30 minutes' notice, seven days a week.
But a home-staging company called Showhomes has pinpointed the few who are happy to pay--that's right, pay--to be one of these home managers: relocated business executives, families who've just sold a house and are building a new one, divorcees, even pro athletes. "It's amazing how many people are in a life transition," says Showhomes CEO Matt Kelton. (All told, there are around 200 active home managers today.)
Of course, you need to dangle the right incentive to secure a committed group of individuals to help with an usual business model like this one. Showhomes, which makes the bulk of its revenue through a 0.5 to 1.25 percent cut of a home's sale that's staged this way, offers generous discounts to home managers that range between one-third and one-quarter of what the rent for a luxury house might normally cost.