David and Goliath is a great story, but let’s be honest, when it comes to small business the story often doesn’t have the same ending. We’ve watched it as local bookstores go out of business thanks to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. We saw the local grocer close up shop to “spend more time with family.” But often it’s impossible to compete with the loss leaders of big stores and businesses.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Small businesses (under 150 employees) have several advantages over their larger competition. They just need to know how to leverage them.
Social Media Is the Great Equalizer
Social media costs small businesses the exact same amount as it does larger ones to participate. Some platforms may roll out features to larger Fortune 100 businesses first, and they may have a better-known brand, but ultimately there’s the same cost of entry for all businesses.
You don’t need a huge marketing budget to get your voice heard on social media. You just need to be willing to invest the time in forming relationships. Let people in and get to know you and they’ll do business with you.
Small businesses can make decisions on behalf of their customers without large amounts of time consulting layers and layers of management. They can respond to changes in the market more quickly. They don’t need to worry about running things by corporate or sticking with something that isn’t working because it’s a directive. Small business is agile and able to provide customers with what they want quickly, as long as they’re listening.
Their Brand Is Their Own
In addition to making decisions on behalf of customers quickly and easily, a small business can rebrand much more rapidly in response to what their customers need and want. There aren’t decisions being made across the country on the location’s behalf. If they notice customers are receptive to something, they can rebrand or market to meet that need or speak to it.
Personalized Customer Service
A small business often is able to offer more personalized customer service because the people who work in a small business are closer to the success of the company. They have more of a vested interest and see more of a direct effect in what they do. Employees of large businesses are far removed from the board and CEO. Their mission statement is something on the wall and not something they feel every day.
Some small businesses have relationships with their repeat customers. They may also have the longevity that makes them experts in their fields. In a large business, employees may be rotated to different departments based on labor needs and they may not have that same depth of knowledge.
A large company may not bother with localized search and keywords so it’s easier to compete in those areas. Through content and review sites, you can build local brand recognition and authority. Small businesses can go deeper and more specific in content than larger companies can afford to scale. Check out this video on how small businesses can compete with big players in SEO.
A Final Word about Small Business Competition
If you're a small business owner and a large box store just moved into your area, you’re not going to compete with loss leaders and deals. At least not unless you want to take huge revenue hits. Instead, compete in ways that you have the advantage. Get more personal on social media. Show off your expertise. Build know, like, and trust.
Don’t take them on in a show of strength. Appeal to your customer’s emotions. That’s where your skills lie and it’s where your customers will reward you with loyalty.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect to their audience through content for higher conversions and greater loyalty. Her articles have appeared in Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
Christina’s an introvert who loves presenting and working with groups to help improve their storytelling and content marketing, yet she feels incredibly awkward at cocktail parties.