If you run an SME (small to medium sized business), taking on a substantially larger rival is a daunting task. However, the landscape has changed and digital marketing now makes it possible to level the playing field and even beat bigger rivals. Okay, so your ‘mom and pop’ store isn’t going to defeat Wal-Mart or Tesco but you can eat up the ground between you and local competitors and come out on top even if you run a physical store rather than an exclusively online business.
Best of all, it doesn’t cost a fortune to develop the right marketing strategy that appeals to your target audience. It’s a fact that most large companies waste most of their advertising budget on crap anyway so by avoiding this, you can immediately close the gap. Below, I look at 3 simple ways for your bricks and mortar David to slay the bigger budget Goliath.
1 – Focus on a Sub-Niche
Walk through any major chain store and they all have one thing in common; they seem to sell absolutely ‘everything’. Tesco have moved on from food and now offer car insurance, gas stations, restaurants and pharmaceutical items for example. As a smaller store, you need to focus on a handful of items and establish your company as the #1 supplier in that particular sub-niche.
While the giants have the clout to cover almost everything, there are gaps in their coverage AND they make a mess of some of the things they offer. Savvy entrepreneurs see these opportunities and grab them with the same zeal that the locusts on Dragon’s Den swarm on an idea to further fatten their already swollen portfolios (or not as we see below).
2 – Personalization
This works in absolutely every facet of marketing these days as consumers expect to be treated as individuals. Take email marketing for example; experts in this field know now how to use audience segmentation and Big Data to learn more about their customers. This information is then used to create ‘personalized’ emails which invariably lead to a higher click-through and open rate for the campaign.
As well as utilising this aspect of email marketing, you can use personalization in everything you do. Although the big boys provide customers with all the goods they want, the service often leaves something to be desired as consumers feel like herds of cattle.
An advantage that most SMEs have over giant retailers is an ability to focus more on personalized customer service. You CAN treat every consumer like they are your #1 customer which means a focus on small details. This means every phone call, conversation and transaction is of critical importance. This can be tiring but unlike big companies, you can’t afford to lose 10 customers a week.
3 – Have Character
One thing about chain stores is that they can be so damn bland. EVERY McDonalds looks the same; ditto EVERY Burger King, Tesco and Wilkinson’s store. These companies know the importance of brand identity and while it can inspire customer confidence, it can also be extremely stale and dull.
This makes it easy for you to stand out and create a company with character. If you have a bricks and mortar presence, make sure shopping in your store is relaxing and ensure that customers are greeted as they enter and leave your store. While this is a big thing in the United States, it is not quite so prevalent in the UK so give it a try!
When you face up against a much larger company, don’t be afraid. The above tips can work well for you if you have a physical presence in your area. If you don’t, use the power of digital marketing to get your message across. This is arguably easier and is certainly less expensive. If you are more creative, energetic and committed than a larger competitor, you can steal their custom and become the ‘big boy’ in the schoolyard.