By Candace Huntly
It can sometimes be frustrating for small businesses to be passed over because a customer wants to purchase from a bigger brand. While it might seem like being a small business among giants puts you at a disadvantage, there are many ways you can step out of the shadow of your large-brand competitors. Remember, the bigger they are the harder they fall… 😉 You have the opportunity to be small, scrappy, agile, whatever word you want to use to describe yourself. Use it to your advantage and stop looking at it as a disadvantage.
Here are a few things small businesses can do to get noticed.
Personalization to attract customers
While larger brands may have larger budgets, small businesses with a smaller customer base have more opportunities to adapt to customer needs on an individual basis. Whether a product or service package needs to be customized or the delivery method, working with your customers to find a solution that meets their needs is well within your reach.
You also have the opportunity to market a product that isn’t mass produced (think handcrafted market sellers). I recently purchased a super hero cape for my daughter and the etsy seller fully customized it with her name. The product was still extremely high quality, but the seller was still able to move fast to fulfill the order because of how they have their business set up.
Increase your brand visibility
We once had someone tell us “we keep seeing you everywhere! How do you do it?” When Trevor started working with SongBird full time, we made a point to try to find opportunities for speaking engagements, workshops, tradeshows, and other mentor positions. Putting yourself out there will allow your name to stay top of mind when a customer is ready to purchase the type of product or service that you offer.
It can be difficult to find opportunities – sometimes you have to dig to get your first few. However, the opportunities are out there. And with so many events moving to a virtual format during the pandemic, there are even more speaking and virtual vendor opportunities than ever. Some will be paid, some not, so you need to weigh the cost against the potential returns.
Have a strong digital presence
If you haven’t set up a digital presence yet in 2020, it is better late than never! With the pandemic having such a devastating effect on brick and mortar businesses, those that have been able to shift at least partially online have been able to weather the storm – even if it’s a bumpy ride. There are a few key ways to have a strong digital presence to help you stand out:
- Website: Make sure that it is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and that your website content really focuses on the benefits your customers get from working with you.
- Blogging: Obviously part of your website, but I like to look at this as a separate strategy. Keeping your blog content fresh will help generate traffic to your website (more opportunities to have people buy into what you are selling) and showcase your expertise and unique brand personality.
- Social media: Social media gives you the opportunity to interact directly with customers and potential customers. It’s a great way to highlight your amazing customer service and have a little fun with your marketing. Remember that follower count means absolutely nothing if you don’t have the engagement. If you only have 200 followers and the big brands have 200,000, treat your 200 followers like they are royalty and it will lead to loyalty.
Listen to your customers – and make changes
If you have the luxury of having a customer base (you usually don’t if you are just getting started), use the opportunity to really listen to what they are saying about you. Ask for reviews and testimonials and don’t be afraid to share them on your website and other marketing channels.
The other thing you should remember is that reviews are a gift. You can really figure out what type of language will resonate with them when you interact. You also have the opportunity to fix something if a customer isn’t happy. Certain large brands will just replace a product or immediately issue a refund with no internal changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. As a small business, you have more opportunity to fix things at the root cause.
Refine your target audience
You can’t be all things to all people. Conquer one audience and move on to the next. Because every niche has different needs, if you try to target a larger audience you may be spreading yourself too thin. Targeting fewer needs will allow you to have a bigger impact with a smaller amount of resources.
While there are a lot of loyalty programs out there – some better-known than others, small businesses can build loyalty programs that are fully based on what their customers want, rather than a more general program. Loyalty programs are always a great way to really connect with your customers and show you appreciate them. Small businesses can build a loyalty program that is more personal as well.
Regardless of world events, more and more consumers are looking to shop local and shop small. There are social media hashtags dedicated to it, consumer movements, events, you name it. The reason why is because community is a big deal for many. People are looking for ways to contribute to a healthy economy by supporting the little guy. You need to let everyone know you exist by having a presence in your community and giving back. Participate in charity drives, neighbourhood events, sponsor community initiatives, and just find ways to be creative while getting involved.
If you are having trouble stepping out from behind the shadow of your big brand competitors, we can help you get on the right track. Set up a FREE 20-minute consultation with us today!