Small business owners typically face one major hurdle when building their own niches in the market: contending against bigger competitors. But any small business can compete with major brands by using a few effective marketing strategies.
1. Engage with Your Consumers Directly
Engaging directly with consumers makes transactions more personal. It makes each customer feel valued and appreciated and is not just a means for the company to make a profit. Being a small business makes engaging with consumers easier compared to big industry competitors.
A small business does not have the bureaucracy and organizational hierarchy that get in the way of customer interactions. Small companies have more room to maneuver in order to give customers a better experience.
Small businesses can give questions and concerns more attention. They deal with them on a more personal level. Customers do not receive generic responses that are not always helpful, as happens with most of the larger, major brands.
This better customer service can help bring in more sales because of the good reviews that ensue. A satisfied customer might post about the experience on social media channels.
Posts like these about your business attract more people to do business with you. This is called word of mouth marketing (WOMM), where word of mouth gets you more customers.
You should capitalize on WOMM. Aim to receive good reviews to boost your trust ratings in your market segment.
Always keep in mind how your customers think. Great products are everywhere and are easy for them to access. Good customer service is difficult to find.
Give amazing customer experiences, and your product will suddenly become much more desirable than those of established brands. Deliver more than customer expectations, and more people will prefer doing business with you.
2. Use CRM to Close More Sales
CRM, or customer relationship management, is a system that helps build better and stronger relationships with core customers. The basic functions of a CRM system include:
- Content and file sharing
- Forecasting sales
- Dashboard-style analytics
- Email integration with Gmail and Outlook
- Instant messaging among employees
Some CRM systems have additional functions such as the following.
A. Marketing Automation
This capability automates repetitive tasks. These can include sending marketing materials to prospects and sales leads as prospects enter the system.
For example, the CRM might detect that a certain internet user is a potential client for your business. The CRM system will automatically send your marketing materials to this prospective client.
Marketing automation reduces the burden on your business to manually look for prospects. It also saves the time and effort you spend on sending promotional materials about your products to your customers. You can spend the extra time completing more tasks.
B. Contact Center Automation
This capability reduces each contact center agent’s tasks by automating some of the more common customer service tools. This automation helps to cut down call times and simplify the customer service process.
Contact center automation can include audio recordings to assist problem-solving and information dissemination. When a client calls the contact service hotline, a pre-recorded audio message will help him or her sort out concerns.
You can resolve frequently asked yet simple concerns with generic solutions via pre-recorded audio. Patch through any customers who require personal assistance from a customer care representative.
Contact center automation is a win-win solution. Customers with generic concerns get answers faster. Those who need personal assistance get patched through more quickly.
Use a commercial phone service for remote businesses to forward your calls to any phone. Using it can make your small business sound like a big business.
You get local and toll-free numbers, music on hold, recordings, advanced voicemail and can route calls based on business hours or even caller-ID.
The customer care representative gets calls that truly need personal attention. And the business looks better because of fast customer care service.
C. Sales Automation Platform
This type of tool tracks customer interactions and then automates specific business functions as necessary. It helps to attract and secure customers from a specific market.
D. Location-Based Services or Geolocation Technology
This technology creates geographic marketing campaigns. It sometimes integrates with some of the popular GPS location-based apps.
E. AI in CRM
Some more advanced CRM systems come with artificial intelligence technologies. These help to automate repetitive tasks. More importantly, AI can help to identify the buying patterns of customers.
This ability greatly helps to predict customer behaviors in the future, such as what items a customer will likely buy on the next visit.
Even a basic CRM system is a huge help. The information and the tracking that the CRM provides will give you a better understanding of your customers.
Use this information to have a clearer view and strategy for up-selling and cross-selling. For example, say the CRM system finds that Customer A buys mostly cosmetic products.
Offer specials and new products within the cosmetics category. If Customer A bought moisturizers, then offer toners, facial pads, and small gadgets for facials.
3. Create Engaging Content That Solves a Problem
Use valuable content to create a competitive angle on your product. Content helps generate more traffic for your site. It is also a way to convince visitors to buy your product or service.
An offer to solve a problem is one of the most convincing types of content. Such information makes people aware of a potential or existing problem and gives them a solution to that problem.
When creating this kind of content, make the customers’ needs a priority. Avoid turning the content into a glaring sales pitch.
Sales pitches will turn off a lot of visitors because they do not really give them information about a problem.
Start with a problem relevant to the customers. Suggest a solution. Discuss the solution briefly. Then explain how your product can be part of that solution.
This strategy is better than simply telling the readers that your product is the answer to all their problems.
Aside from relevant and valuable information, your content should be visually attractive. It should be useful, but not boring. Consider these formatting guidelines:
- Shorter paragraphs
- Stand-alone lines
- Line breaks
- Short pull quotes
- White space
Pictures are a highly effective means of catching attention and engaging readers. Infographics are effective as well.
Another important consideration is creating SEO friendly content. Doing so will put your article and your website higher in the search rankings. Better SEO will bring more visitors to your site, increasing the possibility of sales.
4. Create Product Comparison Reports
Comparison reports help buyers make more informed choices. By giving comparison reports, you are exuding confidence in your product/service/business.
You come off as a brand that knows it can stand up to the major, more well-known brands. When you make comparisons, clients expect the following information:
- Main features of the service or product, most preferably presented as a bulleted list
- Summary of similarities and differences between the service/product and comparable services/products
When creating comparisons, keep in mind what the customer is most likely to use as deciding factors. Which features will be most important to most of your target clients?
Consider your pricing. Next, think of the main way your clients will use the service or product. Focus on these factors when you make comparisons. To know the areas to focus on, know your target customers.
For example, your product is a phone. What features do most of your potential clients want in a phone? Will it be the OS (operating system), the apps it supports, the battery life, etc.?
Know what they are looking for in a product or service and focus on these features when you make comparisons.
How to Present Your Comparisons
There are a few strategies for how to best present your comparisons. The most common method is putting the service/product side by side with competitors or major brands in one table.
This is what most users/site visitors love to see. It’s easy to evaluate the options. The pertinent information is available in just one glance. This type of presentation makes it easy for clients to compare and decide.
Place the most expensive products first. This tactic is the most effective one for bringing new customers to your product rather than to the bigger rivals.
Putting additional information about the product can boost the effectiveness of the comparison. Another method is to place the product/service from each brand in separate blocks.
There should be a clear heading for each block. The main features of the products should be in bullets. The entry of the features should, as much as possible, be in the same order among all the blocks.
5. Create Buyer Guides to Educate Prospective Customers
Buying guides give valuable information to potential customers. Guides give them more knowledge about a product and how to use it. Customers receive the tools they need to make informed purchases.
You do not have to praise your product in the buying guide. If you must, just give a short, modest suggestion. Again, add images or good quality videos within the buying guide to make it visually engaging.
Any Small Business Can Compete with Major Brands
Small businesses do not have the same marketing machinery as large organizations. But you can gather competitive insights from engaging directly with customers and by using CRM systems.
You can make quick sales from having valuable content and informative product comparison reports. Pick your angle when you create your marketing strategies, and watch your business grow.
Daily social media posts highlighting your product will further boost your sales. Apply these strategies now to see your small brand on par with the big ones.
Originally published 2/21/18; updated 4/13/21 to add new information and an infographic.