Small, local businesses will struggle to compete with their much larger competition unless they work smarter with the resources available.
Is it an excuse that smaller businesses can only improve their market share when they have a large marketing budget, offer lower prices and have an established brand? Yes, being a small fish in a pond filled with sharks means that you have the wiggle room to do things differently and show off your expertise and attractiveness.
Even if there’s little room for creating a new category within your market – the 101 of Marketing approach, you can still make inroads by being more observant and analytical with your customer data. It’s often the little things that count the most, and over time, a small business can build its brand by endearing itself to its intended customer audience.
1. Focus on the Customer Service Aspect of Business
Customer service is where your business can push ahead and be first in mind when customers need what you’ve got to offer. Unfortunately, big businesses can end up diluting their customer-centric focus and forget the saying: the customer’s always right. Of course, the customer is not always right, but when your business is empathic and conciliatory, it will win over even the most reluctant consumer.
By way of an example – franchises often struggle to get consistency across the brand.
Toys “R” Us is a prime example.
The once-thriving toy store that kids across the United States loved is closing shop. If you’ve walked into one of their stores in the last few years, you know the pain of trying to find someone, anyone to help you find what you’re looking to buy.
The locally operated customer first outfits work hard to establish:
- Closer owner-customer relationships
- Better customer service
- Workers that are more attentive
2. Offer Customized Products or Services
Local businesses have a pulse on what the local community’s consumers need. Preferences by city, region and income level are easily discerned by local businesses, offering an advantage that the larger entitles don’t have.
Smaller businesses can fill in the gap by offering customized products or services that aren’t filled by larger companies.
Local companies can capture market share through offering:
- Service or product variety
- Customized packages to meet local needs
Multinationals may persist on a dozen key products, but small businesses may need several dozen products to fill the needs of the consumers that want a customized solution. So tap into the underserved niche markets to boost sales.
3. Find Your Competitive Angle and Make It Known
Competitive business angles help businesses win over customers. While your product or service may not be better than the offer of larger entities, your service can be, and people buy on emotion first, so work it. First, find out what your customers want from you, i.e. find your competitive edge or angle and then work it into every encounter with your customer.
You can have a unique story, you may be the only one offering responsiveness, or you may have packaging that the competitors have failed to use despite high levels of product breakage.
Safe or eco-friendly products?
When a business has a competitive angle, it’s essential that they display it with pride to the public. Nike didn’t hide that Michael Jordan was endorsing their products – they flaunted it for the world to see.
Small businesses can do the same to gain recognition.
Create an enviable community of followers and advocates. Even your larger competitors have to work on their social media presence otherwise they risk becoming irrelevant. Your business can become and remain first in mind through its social media presence. This is a whole new topic and we have a few articles on it like this one on why you need social media marketing.