How Small Businesses Can Compete with Big Brands

We’ve often come across the idea that the age of small business is over, that the so-called mom-and-pop shops cannot compete with the big guys. And that large corporations with strong brand recognition will take over. Well, while this is partially true, there are still ways in which small businesses can compete with big brands. This article will explore some of them and give you an idea of how creative decisions can help you punch above your weight.

Different ways in which small businesses can compete with big brands

Trying to win against big brands by doing what they do is doomed to fail. They have experience, money, and brand recognition on their side. So, if you plan on creating a new Coca-Cola to beat the current one, you are in for a rude awakening. Instead, small businesses compete with big brands by offering something that isn’t financially viable for a large company. Mind you; you still have to market your business and build an online presence. But, the crux of it will lie in how your business differs from the big brands.

Building a strong local presence

Big brands usually try to engage a nationwide or worldwide audience. As such, they don’t bother much with establishing a brand presence in a local area. A regional manager can easily rely on the robust marketing that the company invests in. So, they don’t have to work hard in local marketing. Well, this is where a small business can find its place. You can afford to focus on the local market as a small business. This will allow you to build a solid local presence despite big brands’ global recognition. Even if you offer a comparable service and/or product, the local community will be more likely to work with you than with a faceless corporation.

Using marketing trends

Your best bet to find success in online marketing is to make full use of marketing trends. Not all trends are suitable for small businesses. This is why you first need to understand the nature of online marketing and how your business fits into it. You can exponentially grow your online presence by properly making use of a single trend. But, if you fail to understand your business needs, you won’t get much of an ROI on your online marketing – the more research you do, the better.

Top-notch customer service

One of the best selling points of a small business is that they tend to have better customer service than larger companies. Namely, large companies tend to deal with a lot of clients. And managing all those clients is costly, both in terms of time and manpower. The advantage the small business have is that their smaller clientele is easier to manage. So, if you plan on running a small business, ensure you have top-notch customer service. Don’t make the mistake of outsourcing it to a subpar company or considering it as an unimportant add-on. Your customer service plays a significant role in overall customer satisfaction. And you can imagine how vital customer satisfaction is when it comes to online reviews and ratings.

Make changes based on customer feedback

No matter how much large companies try, they will always come across as faceless entities. Heartfelt marketing statements, bold claims about ongoing social issues, marketing stunts designed to invoke a reaction, etc., are all strategies that big brands use to appear that they care about their customers and what the customers have to say. They, of course, don’t. After all, considering how many customers they have, how could they. If a big brand truly tried to see what their customers have to say, they would find contradicting opinions left and right. But, small companies can and should listen to customer feedback. Ideally, you will build a relationship with your customers where they feel that their opinion matters. If you ask customers for feedback and then make changes based on their feedback, you will get their respect and loyalty.

Using customer loyalty programs

Speaking of customer loyalty, it is worth noting that customer loyalty programs go a long way. Programs like:

  • Rewards for returning customers
  • Increasing benefits for doing business with your brand
  • Discounts for recommending your brand
  • Personalised offers based on customers’ behaviour

These are all tried and true ways to find and keep customers.

Segment your audience carefully

Big brands have the luxury of casting a wide net with their marketing. And even with that luxury, they still do their due diligence in finding out what their audience is like and what they are likely to prefer. So, if even big brands need to segment their audience, you also need to. Small businesses live or die based on their ability to identify and engage a target audience. They also need to segment their target audience and approach each segment with personalised content. Only by doing so can they make their audience feel appreciated and not simply plastered with generic marketing content.

The main idea here is to see your industry from a customer’s perspective. Big companies usually lose their feeling of what an average customer thinks. This forces them to base their decisions for lead generation on marketing data. But you, as a small business, don’t have the recourses to gather and process such data. Instead, you need to understand your audience and slowly grow your customer base. Doing so can make business and marketing decisions that bring the desired results. And you won’t have to worry about being out of touch with your customers.

Create suitable marketing content

While it may seem otherwise, big brands don’t have much room for creativity, especially regarding marketing. Every decision they make entails thousands, if not millions, of dollars in investment. Therefore, unless they are sure that their marketing content will bring results, they aren’t willing to invest in it. This, as you can imagine, doesn’t leave much room for creativity which, by its nature, entails risk. But, as a small business, you can afford to be creative with your marketing. If you grow to learn and understand your customer base, you can find ways to create content that speaks to them.

Sometimes you need to change the type of content you use, like videos instead of written content. Sometimes you need to change the tone of your content and adopt a more professional or laid-back approach. The point is that you have room to experiment. So use that to your advantage as much as possible. If your content looks and feels the same as big brands’ content, you’ll have difficulty making it work.

Being a part of the community

One of the most effective ways small businesses can compete with big brands is by integrating themselves with the community. As a small business, you will have a much easier time promoting yourself as a member of a wider community.

Big brands, the faceless entities that they are, will struggle considerably. After all, everyone knows that profit is their primary and only goal. In contrast, a small business can make decisions that don’t solely have profit in mind. You can participate in local events, help promote other companies and aid your community in improving itself. Your local customers will be far more likely to do business with you and promote you to their friends and relatives. Thriving local businesses are well aware of the relevance they get from contributing and being a part of the local community. So, don’t shy away from the potential roles you may have to play.

Build an effective employee team

This is necessary for any company’s success. But, it is especially noticeable when small businesses compete with larger companies. Namely, every successful small business is run by a well-functioning team – a team that is efficient and willing to do what is necessary to see their business thrive.

In large companies, employees tend to only focus on themselves. While these large companies will proclaim that they are a “family,” the actuality is far from it. For a large company, every employee is an investment. Nothing more, nothing less. And the more they can get from their investment, the better. This often leads to a subpar work atmosphere where employees only do the bare minimum not to get fired. Or only focus on bettering their career. Nowhere in this does caring for one another come into play, let alone caring for customer satisfaction.

On the other hand, small businesses can develop a healthy, welcoming atmosphere for employees and customers alike. We all know the feeling of working with a company where the employees are happy, healthy and eager to help. And such employees are almost exclusively found in small businesses. So, if you plan on running a small business, take great care in who you hire. How well your team functions will significantly affect how your business is perceived.

Final thoughts

It should be evident by now that small businesses can compete with big brands. The main idea is to not try and outplay them in their game. The more you understand the downsides of big brands, the more you can emphasise your lack of them. A small business with excellent customer service, creative marketing and a well-functioning team will have no trouble finding customers. Even if their product/service is similar to that of a more prominent company, they will still easily find people to do business with.

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