Making People Love Dentists More Than Netflix (Part II)
Toronto: During Techweek Toronto Growth Summit 2017, Nikolai Bratkovski, CEO & Founder of Opencare, shared his views on the long and short-term challenges of acquiring customers in B2C marketplaces and what future opportunities lie in the space. In Part 2 of this 3 part series, Bratkovski talks about how small companies can compete with large incumbents like Facebook and Google.
“An opportunity for small companies to compete with big players is by curating a unique, vetted supply and delivering access to this unique supply.” – Nikolai Bratkovski, CEO & Founder, Opencare.
After talking about how brand-building has become expensive (read Part I), Bratkovski shared his views on competing with large players like Facebook and Google in the B2C space.
“It’s actually very different to compete with today’s big players than it was with previous legacy companies,” Bratkovski said. “It’s impossible to compete on features and technology anymore, because Google, Facebook etc. have more engineers than all of the companies in this room put together.”
Facebook’s fast follower strategy to compete with SnapChat’s feature differentiation is a clear testament to Bratkovski’s point.
The second way that big players compete is by owing the discovery real estate. “We dominate the top results on Google Page 1, but Google has shifted the map of clinics from the right side to the top of the feed, pushing the organic search results to the second fold. This significantly drops click-through for us because people actually look at those clinics suggested on Google Maps.”
In Bratkovski’s opinion, online B2C customer acquisition has evolved in three stages. The first two stages were one, digitizing the information about local businesses and, two, indexing that information to enable discovery. In both these stages, today, competing with Facebook and Google is very difficult.
“The opportunity for small companies is to build a competitive advantage is in the third stage,” explained Bratkovski. “With so much information on the web, the key is to have a unique, vetted and curated supply around one offering or one location. And delivering customers access to that unique supply.”
With a nod to fellow panelist Mike Gettis’s strategy of selling only mattresses, he said, “We moved away from offering access to every specialty in town to offering access only to dentistry. And we will remain focused on dentistry until we truly dominate that industry. The other strategy is to keep geography as your point of focus and dominate one city.”
Even in terms of marketing, he remarked, small startups can outspend the big players by keeping their efforts laser-focused. “No big player will spend the same budget on a single specialty in a single location.”
Bratkovski concluded by saying that the way ahead for small players was to expand offerings or geographies only once they dominate their existing niches.
In the next part of this series, we’ll share Bratkovski’s advice to budding entrepreneurs and young start-ups.
To see the full video for Techweek Toronto Growth Summit 2017: B2C Customer Acquisition, go here.