Small businesses have always struggled to compete with big companies and franchised businesses for a share of their market. We’ve all heard stories of the ‘Big Guys’ pushing out the smaller, local businesses.
For the most part, small businesses can be; Mom and Pop Shops, Sports Stores, Restaurants, Convenience Stores, Bakeries, Breweries, Golf and Country Clubs, Local chains… etc.
Compared to five years ago, small businesses now have more tools at their disposal to compete with big companies than ever. Many larger companies like Shopify and HubSpot are looking to close the gap, by catering to smaller businesses to offer services that will help them compete with big companies. This week, we’re going to tell you how your small business can not only compete with the big guys, but beat them at their own game too. So, what can you do to compete with big brands?
Seek out loyal customers (Build Personal Relationships)
The golden rule of success in any business is to always remember, “80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.”
Loyal customers are the bread and butter of any business, but especially so for smaller companies. Let’s face it. As a small business, you probably don’t have the same marketing budget that a company like Samsung would. As a result, gaining new customers and attracting new audiences can be difficult.
However, as a small business, you have roots in the community. A neighbourly referral from one of your loyal customers could begin a string of new business through word-of-mouth. Small businesses have the power of personality. Big brands spend millions of dollars a year to build up their online personality, but as a small business owner, you have the power to create real, meaningful relationships with your customers. For free! That’s why networking and establishing your business as a neighbor in the community will help protect you from losing business to bigger companies. It will also give people a reason to choose your business over the big guys, which brings us to our next point!
Take care of your loyal customers and they will take care of your business. And if there’s one thing you can never have enough of, it’s loyal customers.
Find a unique selling point.
Our digital world is constantly evolving. With so much going on and so many advertising messages being thrown at our screens on a daily basis, it’s hard to filter through the noise and find a brand that truly connects with us. As humans, we want to belong. As consumers, we want to be understood and catered to. Your business will fail if you have nothing to offer that separates you from your competitors. It’s that simple. At some point, you have to face the music and realize that you cannot undercut prices like the big guys can. You also can’t supply to a larger market. What you can do, however, is offer something unique. You can offer something of relevance to your customers that not only shows them you care, but that you understand how to satisfy a need of theirs that nobody else has been able to do.
Just so you understand how earthshaking this knowledge is to the consumer, take a second to think about this. Imagine that you are at a rock concert from a well-known band that you’ve been dying to see.
Now, imagine this band shows up late (as many big name artists do, from time to time). You’d be disappointed right? You’d feel like you’ve been cheated out of your money. Well, that’s what we feel like when a big company lets us down.
On the other hand, imagine that next to this big concert, is a smaller band playing at a pub. The atmosphere is more pleasant, you’re not being suffocated by a group of teenagers trying to see over your head, and the band players are actually able to make eye contact with you. Not only that, but you decide to stick around after the show and you get to meet the band! A special privilege most people don’t get to experience at larger concerts. Imagine the feeling of belonging a fan would feel from meeting their band and talking to them without being talked down to or brushed off as ‘just a fan’.
In this scenario, the smaller band won business from the more popular band because of their ‘Unique Selling Point’. So, what makes your business different from the big guys? Do you offer services that they don’t? Find your USP and make it shine like the North Star: For everyone to see and admire.
People like to buy local. While online shopping and e-commerce sites offer much of what big box stores cannot, there is nothing that can replace the experience of trying out a piece of clothing or taking a car for a test drive. There are some things that people simply need to see and feel before they make a purchase decision. More often than not, large companies will not have stores in your area. If they do, they may sometimes need to order from a warehouse to refill stock. As a small business, your inventory will likely reflect the purchasing habits and trends of your regular customers.
The basis for any relationship, business or not, is trust. It’s natural to trust a brand in your area than one in another because it’s more relatable. A business that operates in your neighbourhood is much more likely to understand you as a consumer and for that reason, we tend to trust local shops more than big companies.
Big companies have more people in many departments, with layers upon layers of management to go through before any decision is every made. With smaller companies, you can usually speak to the owner or a manager directly for assistance with an issue.
Small businesses also have the power to be spontaneous and much more creative. Two things that are extraordinarily successful in the world of social media. If something isn’t working with your strategy, at least you won’t have to worry about getting an entire floor of executives to approve your decision before it’s too late.
The booming success of companies such as HubSpot and Shopify comes from helping small businesses to compete with larger scale companies by helping them set up online stores and email marketing strategies.
Online stores have been an excellent way for even the smallest companies get noticed and make sales with customers from all parts of the globe. They also provide a unique experience, which certainly beats going to the store on a rainy afternoon.
Advertise/Promote with Social Media
As we mentioned before, social media is the place to be if you’re a small business. With more reach than some of the biggest media companies in the world, it’s no wonder why almost 90% of small businesses are active on social media.
The landing page of your website or social media page is essentially the entrance to your place of business. If someone were to walk in your store or business, that first impression will be from your online presence.
We’re always searching. Whenever we are looking for a new car, house, set of cutlery, or what have you, we tend to do our research online. Now, when people search for your brand, they will have the opportunity to discover your story online. Be different. Be relevant. AND MOST OF ALL: PROVIDE VALUE.
Social Media is free to use and post your content, making it a cost-effective tool for small businesses with little to no advertising budget. If you want to take the next step and grow your reach, advertising with social media platforms have netted businesses some of the highest ROI’s (returns on their investment) in the industry, alongside video marketing and email marketing as the most efficient and effective strategies in the marketing world today.