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How Small Businesses Can Compete with Big Companies

 

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.

 

Promote local.

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.

 

Be agile.

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.

E-Commerce

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.

The Power Of Email and Social

Social media is a powerful marketing tool on its own. Partnered with email marketing (average ROI of 3800%), these tools can become a magic marketing duo. Successful integration of email into your social media marketing strategy can greatly improve your SEO, generate leads, and create a brand experience that your audience will enjoy and remember.

Does this mean that you have to start buying mailing lists to contact people with your messages? NO! The genius of inbound marketing is to eliminate the nuisances of outdated marketing tactics such as purchasing lists and spammy messages. In this article, we’re going to show you how email and social can work together to create a successful, cohesive, and consistent inbound marketing strategy!

 

Cross Promote

Tease your audience about the perks of email by posting hints on social media as to what they’re missing out on. Vice versa, you can also send an email to your subscribers about the joys and benefits of following your social profiles.

Twitter and Facebook both have features that allow you to create a post or form for others to enter their information like an email address (lead ads). Just be sure to make the offer worthwhile! Contests and giveaways can go a long way here!

You can also add social buttons to the header/footer of your emails, similar to how you would add them to a blog or webpage. They should not be disruptive to the content and should provide a call to action that directs your audience from one brand touchpoint to another, taking them to the next step in your sales funnel.

Facebook also has a feature which lets you add a button to the top of your page. You can use this for many things, but it is especially useful as a “Sign up” button for people to enter their email address.

 

Coordinate

Line up your weekly/monthly content by topics or relevance so that email and social content do not repeat, confuse or distract users from your objectives. Coordinating your content with a calendar is a good way to make sure that your content is organized, not scattered. This also allows you to ensure that multiple teams or departments will be on the same page. Consistency is the name of the game here!

 

Custom Audiences

Did you know that you can use your mailing list to create a custom audience on Facebook? This will allow you to specifically target those in your mailing list with promotions and content through Facebook Ads. Additionally, you can add a Facebook Pixel to your website to track users who have visited your site and retarget them on Facebook. Using these custom audiences, your ROI for ad spend will be much greater and the cost of acquisition per customer will be much lower. This is because people who have either visited your website or subscribed to your mailing list are already interested in what you have to offer.

You can also upload subscriber lists to most social platforms like Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Indirect Email Marketing

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have niche communities that are called groups or lists. Usually, these groups are public and anyone who is interested can join. Some of these groups have moderators and will not let marketers in, but if you have something of value to offer, they might let you post in the group. What does this have to do with email marketing?

When you have subscribed to or joined a group on a platform like LinkedIn, you will be sent a notification triggered by activity within the group via email. This is a unique opportunity for small business owners to really network with their audience on a niche level. With this method, you won’t have direct access to their email, but you’ll be getting into their mailbox indirectly.

 

Your Turn!

Try using these strategies to support your blooming online presence! The businesses that have the most success are the ones that plan everything from start to finish, and never give up. It can be overwhelming, but if you ever have any questions, you know who to ask!

 

Not sure if what you’re doing is working? Sign up for a risk-free Social Audit with 93 Agency and let us show you why we’re the go-to social media experts! Don’t forget to follow us on social media for your weekly dose of small business marketing tips.