Zombies and Ecommerce: Not as different as you might think.

Published July 2, 2013 by Samuel Caleb Wee+ in Dear Retailers / Marketing

Have you guys seen the latest Brad Pitt shoot-em-up, World War Z?

Pretty. Damn. Awesome.

Even if you’re not a fan of zombie movies or games (hey, no judging), you’ve got to admit that the panoramic scenes of zombie hordes swarming entire cities are EPIC. Here’s the trailer:

It might just be the summer blockbuster of the year.

Being the marketing and ecommerce geeks that we are, though, we couldn’t help noticing a little nugget of wisdom that applies to the very real world of ecommerce.

Mother Nature is a serial killer. She wants to get caught, she leaves bread crumbs, she leaves clues… Mother Nature knows how to disguise her weakness as strength.

The ecommerce marketplace is littered with bodies.

Seriously. It ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. Businesses and stores get mercilessly crushed by market forces every single day. Most never make it. It’s a tough world, especially when you don’t have the resources that big, powerful corporations do. Everybody is competing with everybody for attention. Established brands like Amazon or Ebay have economies of scale and pervasive brand exposure on their side, and thrive off providing a wide range of products and services for people who are interested in browsing.

How the heck are small businesses supposed to compete with that?

The answer: you don’t.

We’ve talked several times about some of the brands we find awesome—RedBull, Party Shades, Rey Swimswear, etc. Just last week,  we wrote about the importance of being memorable, and highlighted a few brands we’re never going forget.

All of these brands have one thing in common—they have gotten very good at dominating and carving out niches for themselves. The entirety of their brands can be boiled down into a single sentence or phrase. Whether it’s in making wickedly cool swimwear or swaggadacious party shades, they’re all specialists in their fields.

Just as with the zombies, the strength of these big corporations is actually their weakness. They may have the advantage of size and the power of mainstream marketing on their side, but the large organization’s breadth of scope also makes them less capable of engaging with people on a personal level. That’s where you can compete.

Even though the economies of scale makes mass distribution cheaper, the large organization’s focus on uniform production also makes it harder to craft unique messages around their products. The various advantages of large organizations can often prove to be a double-edged sword for them. Your task is to identify your own competitive advantage.

You can be different. You already are.

The laser-beam focus of a small operation allows you to become truly, madly, deeply acquainted with all aspects of the problem you’re trying to solve, which allows you to cut deeper than larger “everything-for-everyone” organizations can deliver.

More importantly, by ferociously attacking a single problem and keeping your focus on your customers, you have the luxury of telling a story. Swimsuits that you wear as a proud symbol of your dignity, energy drinks that fuel your extreme radical lifestyle, lively sneakers that set you apart from boring shoe-wearers.

Passion is an infectious thing: no matter what the product or service, the strongest parts of our hearts are always the strongest parts of our business. When you zoom into a niche and allow your unique personality to shine through, you create an immersive consumer experience by communicating the entirety of that which makes your business different: you.

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