If you’re a small business sometimes marketing can seem like a David and Goliath exercise: how on earth are you expected to compete with huge corporations with established brands, massive audiences and seemingly endless advertising dollars?
Well, it turns out, bigger is not always better.
Small to medium businesses (SMEs) have marketing advantages that the big companies can only dream of.
Here are seven unique ways to leverage them:
1. Be agile
As a small business, one of your biggest assets is your ability to get things done quickly, without being bogged down by layers of bureaucracy or exhaustive consultation processes. Use it to your advantage!
Develop your social media presence and use it to post timely, relevant and useful content.
Has something happened in the news that is relevant to your business? Blog about it. Want to shift focus to a particular item or service? Post about it.
Remember to always use A/B testing to gain an insight into what sort of content is working and what isn’t.
2. Partner with other SMEs
Develop marketing partnerships and cross-promotional opportunities with other businesses.
They could be with businesses within your geographical area or in a similar or complimentary industry.
Other SMEs are often eager to bring in partners for their promotions because the affiliation can expand their reach and increase brand awareness.
3. You’ve got personality – use it
Small businesses inherently have greater personality attached to their brand, compared to large, faceless corporations.
Yet, all too often SMEs try to downplay their personality in an attempt to appear ‘professional’ rather than leveraging one of their greatest assets.
Be the business that people like to visit because they know you, and be the social media account that people follow because they are interested in your unique quirks.
4. Identify a niche or unique selling point
Every small business has a point of difference – it’s the reason why customers choose your business and not one of the countless other companies offering a similar product or service.
Find your unique selling point and make that an angle of your marketing.
It could be a niche product, a specialist service, or it could even be an ethical standpoint, such as using organically sourced products.
5. Seek free publicity
Publicity is a great way to spread the word about your business and increase brand awareness.
Traditional media is one avenue to gain publicity. Local newspapers, in particular, are often interested in local events and launches.
Remember, newspapers love stories so make sure you have a good one. You can find an angle for a story by asking yourself: Why did you start your business? How did you and your business partner meet? What does our business do to give back to the community?
Celebrities and influencers can be useful for social media shout outs too.
If your business is something the celebrity or influencer is interested in, contact them to see if they would post something about you. And if a celebrity visits your store, ask for a selfie, then post it and tag them.
Other ways you might be able to seek publicity is by featuring on a podcast, offering to guest blog on an established website or publication, or seeking shout-outs on social media accounts or groups.
Getting out and about is a low-cost way to market your business, usually requiring only your time.
Join face-to-face networking groups, within your industry, but also within your business locality.
Become involved in local community events and participate in local trade fairs.
You’ll get to meet like-minded business types and they may be in a position to refer your business service or products to others.
7. Request testimonials
If you know a client is happy with your product or service, ask for a referral.
Online referrals help people decide whether to use your business, and word-of-mouth referrals to family and friends can have tremendous value.
Ask them to post a favourable Google review, give your Facebook business page a 5-star rating or use their testimonial in pride of place on your website.