Small businesses simply don’t have the huge marketing budgets that larger companies do. However, a small business owner has determination and personal investment on a level not always present in larger businesses.
If you’re in the process of growing your small business, you may wonder how you can compete with larger companies. Your eventual goal may even be to become a big business yourself one day.
Here are some tips to follow:
Attract the Best Employees.
The U.S. Census estimates that about 11% of people work for small businesses. This means that you can attract some of the best employees and may even be able to compete with large companies by offering some perks that they can’t.
Allow workers to bring a child or pet to work with them. Even though your benefits package may be less than a mega corporation, employees look at other benefits when choosing which job offer to take. Your best employees might value flexibility more than other aspects.
Focus on Customer Service.
Even though a big business can afford to throw a lot more money at ads and pulling in customers, you can gain customers by focusing on excellent customer service. Seventy-eight of customers place more trust in small- and mid-sized businesses than large companies.
This gives you an excellent opportunity to not only reach a certain demographic of customers, but also to create brand loyalty. Take the time to develop a good customer service philosophy and fully train your employees on how to treat customers.
Understand Your Customer.
Learn exactly who your typical customer is and you’ll know how to reach them. Use statistical data related to your industry or local area to develop user personas. A user persona is simply a model of what your typical customer is like. It’s like creating a character for a story. You can then target marketing, contests and even blog posts to those user personas.
Use Trending Hashtags.
Twitter is an excellent social media platform to promote your business inexpensively. However, if you aren’t taking advantage of trending topics, you’re missing out. Simply login to your account and look on the right hand side of your page to see what topics are trending. Then, think through how you can relate your business to that topic.
If #Christmas is trending, then you’d write a tweet that ties into that hashtag. Or, you could work up a blog post to promote on the topic and add a link with the hashtag. This allows people who are following that trending hashtag to see your tweet.
Social Media on Autopilot.
Speaking of social media marketing. The big companies typically have a team of people or at least one dedicated person constantly working on social media marketing. A small business may not have the luxury or the time to spend on that much social media.
You can utilize some key tools to make it look like you have a team behind you.
For example, use HootSuite to schedule posts in advance. You can add plugins to a WordPress blog, so that when a new post goes live there will be a corresponding post that automatically posts on Facebook and Twitter.
Dig Into Your Niche.
The larger a business grows, the more it moves away from its niche. As a small business, you can really focus in on one particular area and do it right.
So, if you’re competing with golf equipment companies, you won’t be able to offer clubs, bags, tees, apparel and golf carts. Instead, you might want to offer a specific type of accessory that helps with the golf swing and a club that goes with it.
By truly honing in on a specific niche, you’ll be able to show knowledge and make sure you’re offering the absolute best of the best in products.
As a small business owner, you likely have a more personal relationship with your clients. This will allow you to reach out and ask for testimonies from them. Because your customers know you well, these testimonies will show off the customer service and personality that you bring to your business.
Your raving fans make you unique from any other business out there.
Be Ready to Make Changes.
One huge advantage of a small business versus a big business is that you’re smaller and can make changes easier, even radical ones.
One metaphor that shows the advantage of a small business that needs to recreate itself is that of a boat.
A large boat, such as a ship, is difficult to turn around. It’s bulky and it takes time to slow it down and alter the course. On the other hand, a small boat, such as a speedboat, will change direction much more quickly and efficiently. This means you can easily reinvent your business as often as you need to in order to be successful.
Even though it might seem impossible to compete with big businesses that can buy in bulk quantities, you can figure out ways to price competitively. One idea is to buy odd lots and closeouts that you can sell at a deep discount. You can also offer a few loss leaders to draw customers in.
National retailers do this all the time by advertising a really great price on a few products. People tend to buy other items while there.
Don’t be intimidated because a big box competitor opens up nearby. You can compete with big businesses. You simply need to try new and creative innovations, offer excellent service and pay attention to things you can do that differentiate you from the competition.
Even though some customers may go with the first ad they see, and the big companies can beat you on advertising, word of mouth can bring in even more business over time.
Focus on service and style and you’ll have plenty of customers to keep your business thriving.