It can be disheartening, as a small business, to look at the current business landscape and think about the prospect of competing with a billion (or in the case of Amazon, trillion) dollar company. “How can I compete with multi-million dollar marketing budgets, teams of savvy millennials running expert social media accounts, and ruthless executives and CEOs doing whatever it takes to keep investors happy?” you might ask yourself. All good questions, and ones that should give any small business pause.
But none of that means there aren’t situations in which you can’t be competitive. If there is one great thing about the digital era, it is that good ideas, combined with an understanding of online marketing tactics, unbeholden to traditional media gatekeepers, can harness the power of the internet just like the big boys can. If you are wondering whether it’s even worth it to try and compete with the big players in your market, below are some considerations to keep in mind, and some reminders that size isn’t everything.
Customer service matters
People in this day and age demand customer service excellence. If a company treats a customer poorly, or doesn’t attend to a problem/inquiry in a timely fashion, social media provides people with the power to amplify a gripe in an instant. That is why any powerful company worth its salt is meticulous about customer service and social media management.
People are quick to blast bad customer service and put it out there for the world to see. If you are able to garner yourself a reputation for unparalleled customer service, even if you are small, people will talk about it, and it will drive traffic to your business.
Have a great social media presence
Social media isn’t just a buzzword, or a fad concept: your customers expect it. If you are a small business, with a great social media presence that people like, you will get noticed. This is all the more true if you consistently put out great, relevant content.
If you can get people clicking, sharing, and engaging with you (positively) on social media, it doesn’t matter how big your marketing budget is. Social media allows you to build a brand, and connect personally with your customers in a way that is budget independent. If you have good ideas, and know how to use social media to your advantage, it can level the playing field considerably.
Design a better team
It might sound like a management textbook platitude, but having the right people can make or break the success of any business. Think about labour costs for most businesses: they’re the biggest expenditures, and the ones most are always trying to cut. Attracting and keeping high quality people (their ideas, their work ethic, their interpersonal skills) is key for any business, in any industry.
If you are a small fish in a big pond, but you are surrounded by talented, innovative, likeable, hard-working people whom you pay well, you already have an enormous competitive advantage.
It’s often easier to innovate when you’re smaller
With size comes bureaucracy and politics, and those two things tend to be anti-innovation. As a smaller company, fewer employees and less red tape means it’s often easier to respond and remain flexible, especially in rapidly changing markets.
Many large companies become out-of-touch dinosaurs and, consequently, go extinct before they even realize what has happened, because inefficiency after inefficiency bogs them down. Often times a smaller business can get a new idea to market more quickly, and less burdened by internal chaos.
A well-designed website makes a world of difference
Having a well designed website can give you a headstart. There are plenty of examples out there of large companies with poorly-designed sites. If you build a site that is easier to navigate than the big boys, mobile friendly, and user friendly, you stand a chance against the big boys.
That is not to say that fighting giants is easy, or even makes senses (depending on your industry). Most investors would likely laugh a small business owner out of the room if they said they were taking on Amazon or PayPal. But if you know your industry, and know you are strong in some, or all of the above areas, you can absolutely give the big boys a run for their money.
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