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How to Compete With Service Industry Juggernauts

Long gone are the Wild West days of the Internet when AOL ruled over other ISPs and AltaVista was a preferred search engine. For many sectors, the big brands have claimed their territory and settled in.

Google has claimed victory in the great search engine wars and Amazon is the king of e-commerce. There are of course some smaller players still around in these big spaces, but unless something drastic happens, the status quo will most likely remain unchanged.

So, how does a smaller entity make some noise in the virtual world of big brands?

The Riches are in the Niches

There’s a popular saying in affiliate marketing – The riches are in the niches. Basically, what it means is that instead of using your entire marketing budget trying to compete with the products and services promoted by the big brands, target the smaller products and services they tend to overlook.

There’s no reason why a new or small service-based business cannot adhere to this strategy as well. Let’s look at a few examples.

Tax Accountants

Solo entrepreneurs and SMB’s are known to outsource a lot of their tax services as many don’t have the budget or the work hours to justify hiring a full-time in-house accountant. Everyone’s heard of big firms like H&R Block and DIY options like TurboTax. So, how does a smaller tax service try and break into the saturated tax services sector?

They niche down.

Take Greenback Expat Tax Services for example. Instead of trying to take on the big names of the industry, they designed their tax service to fit the needs of a specific audience: expatriates.

By niching down, Greenback positions themselves as specialists whereas the H&R Block’s of the sector come off more as general tax service providers.

Job-Hunting Sites

One of the biggest online service industries is the career and job-hunting space. Giant sites like Monster and Indeed have firmly cemented themselves as go to resources for anyone looking to find work or change jobs.
So again, how does a newer and smaller player enter this space of the Internet and have any chance of not getting swallowed whole by the big brands?

They niche down and target a specific audience.

For example, Jobs in the Oil Patch targets only one industry: the oilfield industry.

They keep their business plan simple by clearly stating they aren’t a hiring agency. And, they do what the big brands don’t, which is spend all of their resources posting open positions for one small subset of jobseekers instead of trying to cover every single open position in every single industry.

Why waste time looking at fewer job listings on a massive website not specifically aimed at your job search needs? By niching down, Jobs in the Oil Patch becomes the go to website for anyone working in the oilfields industry.

Website Design

Any small business owner knows just how many small web design companies there are because they’re constantly bombarded with cold emails and phone calls pitching web design services. And, most of these pitches fall on deaf ears.

The reason these small companies are failing is that they’re trying to compete with the Squarespaces of the world as well as the big local firms. They offer nothing unique and just blend into the background.

So how does a new venture make waves in the web design industry without suffering the same fate as too many of the small website design generalists?

They of course niche down.

Digital marketing is a growing industry, so there’s definitely a need for website services, but instead of offering generic website design, create a more specialized service, much like Leadpages has done.

The folks over at Leadpages aren’t interested in fruitlessly pitching generalized website design services. Instead, their entire business model is built around one very specific part of a website: landing pages.

They created software to make building highly converting landing pages a breeze, and their website is full of information on exactly what you would expect, which is anything and everything about landing pages.

By going niche, they easily stand out in the overcrowded web design industry.


Trying to take on the big players head-to-head in service industries is a recipe for failure. Without serious capital you’ll most likely end up swimming upstream until you burn through all your resources.

By taking an angle and focusing on a very specific subsection within an industry, you give your small business a realistic chance at success.

So, how do you compete with service industry juggernauts? You go niche, or you go home.