It can be hard being a small business entrepreneur. Hearing about “mom and pop” stores going up against “big box” retailers can make you feel like you’re always battling against giants. But being a small business can be an advantage when customers get tired of dealing with large corporations, and start looking for something new. Here are five ways you can build a competitive advantage for your small business:
1. Celebrate your size: Don’t be ashamed that you are “only” a small business. Stress in your marketing and social media that you can get to know customers better and respond faster precisely because you are smaller. Make sure your website and social media updates contain lots of personal stories from customers.
2. Connect more often: Yes, you might have fewer customers, but this means you have the ability to build more personal relationships. Collect email addresses and send out a quick note of thanks, a congratulatory message, or recognize a customer’s birthday. If you’re in retail you can even let a customer know when something comes into your shop that is just right for them.
3. Get yourself out there: One big complaint about big corporations is that customers always have to deal with employees who are way down on the chain of command. Customers love to be able to talk to someone who actually has the power to do something. Make it known that you are a hands-on entrepreneur. Let customers know they can ask questions and voice concerns. If they ask you something via social media, make sure you respond promptly.
4. Look ahead: Because you are smaller, you can adapt to change more quickly. Look ahead and see what it new and different, and make sure your company gets there before the big guys.
5. Take advantage of online marketing: The World Wide Web has been the great leveler in marketing. You don’t need a big marketing budget to be able to market effectively online. Any company can develop a website and take advantage of social media marketing opportunities. Start a blog to increase awareness, and use it to provide helpful information that will build relationships with prospects and customers.
Take Advantage of Small Business Resources
People love to cheer for a perceived “underdog.” Because small business has always been seen as the backbone of the American economy, there are a lot of people on your side cheering you on. Take advantage of resources offered to you by the Small Business Administration, and look for help from local Chambers and universities.