Big businesses have been on the receiving end of a lot of bad press and criticism lately. Trust for large corporations is suffering, with news stories about tax avoidance, obscene pay gaps between shareholders and workers and poor treatment of staff.
As a result, people are starting to turn back towards small businesses, realising the benefits they can bring to their community. This is good news for small businesses everywhere but it can still be daunting when you look at the competition.
It’s hard work to make a name for yourself in a crowded marketplace full of big intimidating businesses but here are a few ideas to give you an edge:
Keep an eye on the competition
First of all, make sure you keep an eye on what the competition is up to, even the big ones with huge marketing campaigns you can’t replicate. It’s always good to know how they’re marketing themselves and how the public is responding to them.
You can try a scaled down marketing campaign or introduce a similar offer that a big firm is doing.
Give customer service a personal touch
One of the reasons that people prefer small businesses is because of the more personal touch that you can’t get from big companies. Customers generally experience better customer service from smaller companies than they do from big brands. So make sure you live up to this expectation and give your customers the care and attention they are lacking elsewhere.
Focus on simplicity
A smaller business might find that a large competitor is overcomplicating their business practice or software and put their own simple spin on things. Many customers will thank them for it, particularly if it’s a cheaper version too.
This also goes for customer service and experience. Make your customer experience as straightforward as possible. Bigger businesses generally have lines of people on helpdesks and customers never appreciate being put through to three different people in one call.
A smaller company can bypass the cold customer service experience and turn their limited resources and smaller scale into a positive.
The most obvious way you can compete with big businesses is to offer your products or services at a cheaper rate. You might be able to offer your products or services at cheaper prices that the bigger businesses won’t be able to beat. If your business has lower overheads, then you can pass this saving on to the customers.
If you’re finding it difficult to compete on price, then make sure you’re offering something that the other bigger companies aren’t or can’t in order to bump up the value of your services or products.
Make use of flexibility
SMEs have the flexibility to react quickly and change plans according to industry changes or news. Bigger businesses have to run these decisions through multiple teams of people and get approval before they can move on anything drastic. There’s a bit more breathing room in a smaller company.
A bigger business might be able to cover all bases for customers, appearing to have the edge. However, a smaller business can specialise on one thing and sell themselves as experts on that alone. They can then be the go-to company when a customer needs those particular services or products.
Partner with another business
Before you think: “Why would I want to help out a competitor?” give it some thought. Maybe there is a business out there that you could strike a deal with. You might not be direct competitors but share some of the same customers. Both businesses can then promote each other without missing out and the customer gets a good deal.
What gives your company an edge over bigger businesses? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments below.
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About The Author
An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.