In so many ways, small businesses are the building blocks of America. Not only do they embody the American dream, but they often service industries and customers in a more personal manner. That said, there can be an assumption that small businesses are outpunched by big corporations, but this is certainly not always the case. In order for small companies to shine they must understand how best to market their businesses, create a recognizable brand, ensure quality customer service, and add value to their given industry.
Study the Competition
As with any company, one of the first steps in creating a sustainable business is understanding the industry itself, as well as the players who will become your direct competition. Knowing how your potential competitors operate will help you identify industry trends, standards, and customer expectations. Once you can identify these it becomes easier to price your products, create products that add value to the industry, and improve user experience. With this preparation, a manufacturer can devise an in-depth business plan and marketing strategy to begin growing their market share.
In order to better understand the process, it can be helpful to look at a well-known (and industry changing) company, such as Amazon. In 1994, when Amazon started, it was hardly the business giant we see today. In fact, it started with an exclusive focus on selling books. This small business model has exploded in just over a quarter of century to expand into nearly every realm. And while you can certainly still purchase books, you’re just as likely (more so even) to dash onto Amazon to grab things like clothes, garden tools, and even furniture.
Importantly, Amazon has grown from a small book distributor in 1994, to the leader in ecommerce, and was valued at $438 billion dollars by the end of 2021.
Establish a Solid Digital Presence
Digital marketing is here to stay, and it’s a great thing for small businesses. It’s not a surprise that word of mouth and brand recognition carry serious weight. Before the internet became big, these vital business aspects fell to physical marketing campaigns, television ads, and face-to-face communication. And while these are still important avenues, the digital path is the most direct and widely accessible.
It’s important to remember that big corporations have the advantage when it comes to advertising. They have established their market share through consumer brand recognition, customer loyalty, a long history, and often a variety of products. In order to combat this, it’s imperative for small businesses to advertise often, in many mediums, and with clever campaigns.
Research suggests, your potential customers need to see your brand a minimum of seven times before they will feel comfortable trying your products or services, and if you only rely on the old methods, reaching those seven views can be a long process. However, now with so many social media outlets available, you can post on a multitude of platforms with minimal effort and maximum effect.
Customer Service Matters
Customer service is the backbone of any company. When customers are satisfied with a product and the company, they are bound to become loyal and repeat purchasers. Small businesses are very much beholden to reviews, customer experiences, and overall customer support. The good news is, if your company delivers here, it can make great strides in competing with large corporations.
Even when large companies want to deliver great customer service, they are often victims of bottlenecking and sheer volume, which may leave their customers less than satisfied. When a small business sends personal follow up emails, knows their customers’ names, or connects customers with an actual person on the phone, they are providing an experience that will make their customers feel valued. When customers feel valued, they are more likely to leave positive reviews with personalized messages praising employees by name or even detailed accounts of how issues were handled in a thoughtful and quick manner.
Running a small business isn’t easy and competing with large corporations can feel overwhelming. But by implementing these core strategies, small businesses can set themselves apart by providing a personal experience for their customers. Brand recognition is imperative, if only for making potential customers think about the fact that there is an alternative to the larger brands. The trick is, once you get customers on your site or working with you, a small business must come through, surpassing the competition in all the ways that really matter, which is what small business owners do best.