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7 simple ways small businesses can outcompete big brands

Posted by Kanika Sinha

November 8, 2021    |     4-minute read (717 words)

Most small and local businesses face the daunting prospect of competing against larger, better-resourced rivals. On the face of it, going up against established firms with name recognition and big marketing budgets may seem like an uphill battle to a new business owner.

But small, challenger businesses have inherent advantages over big competitors that can help level the playing field, or even tilt it in their favor. Keep in mind that the reason your small business exists is likely because larger companies are not serving some customers effectively.

Here are seven strategies that small, upstart businesses can use to outcompete larger competitors:

  1. Deliver excellent customer service
Customer service has the potential to affect revenue just as much as a strong sales funnel or an expensive marketing campaign. Microsoft statistics show that 94% of American consumers consider customer service somewhat to very important and that 88% of global consumers of all ages deem customer service a deciding factor in making a purchase.

Small businesses have the agility to offer a personalized customer experience that exceeds expectations rather than offering a cookie-cutter approach. Capitalize on your size and get to know potential customers, evaluate their needs and develop a solution that is tailored to them, all while being mindful of their time. 

Over time, your top-notch customer service will create loyal followers. They can in turn provide your business with referrals, reviews and testimonials, and even serve as the subject of case studies.

  1. Embrace innovation
Many small and local businesses exist to fill a gap that larger companies are not meeting. Use this to your advantage by highlighting every aspect of your product or service that sets your business apart. 

Also, because small businesses tend to have stronger connections with customers, they are better positioned to understand their particular pain points and challenge industry leaders by innovating solutions.

  1. Build a strong digital presence 
Free and low-cost digital marketing tools can get your small business’s name in front of local customers and help distinguish it from bigger competitors. 

For example, use organic social media – posts on your company’s social media pages that can be seen by your audience without paid promotion – to broaden the business’s footprint online, connect with customers and share its unique personality.

Also consider paid digital marketing, like Facebook advertising and pay-per-click ads, to reach new audiences and gain potential customers. This will incur a minimal investment compared with traditional advertising methods.

Finally, take the time to optimize your Google My Business page. This is often the first result to appear when a customer looks up your business.

  1. Test out marketing trends
Bigger companies may have the budget to spend freely on the latest marketing trends. But small businesses have the advantage of being able to quickly execute a new marketing initiative without first requiring layers of approval. 

With less red tape and fewer decision-makers, small businesses can experiment with the latest marketing trends before their larger competitors even get their budgets cleared.

  1. Attract the best employees
Building a great team will help your small businesses deliver superior customer service, which is integral to a good reputation that will help you stand out. An excellent staff will also keep things running smoothly even when you’re offsite.

To compete with bigger firms, small businesses can be creative with perks, such as offering flexible schedules, remote work, group outings and pet-friendly offices. This will attract talent and foster an appealing culture where employees feel supported.

  1. Get involved in the community
Being local gives small businesses the opportunity to establish a personal connection with the community. Consider sponsoring a local sports team, or perhaps donate products or services to a school auction. Some small businesses also get the team together every month or quarter for a volunteer day at a local charity.

  1. Step up your design
It’s human nature for customers to judge a book by its cover, and business branding is no exception. A clear, meaningful logo and a well-conceived website that is consistent with the design of your business cards, signage and social media accounts are a must to build your brand. 

The goal is to help customers recognize your brand by applying a consistent approach to every touch point they may encounter. This will instill trust and differentiate your business from competitors.

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