How can the small guys compete with the big guys – when the big guys have more £££

Today’s blog covers another marketing question from a fellow Twitter colleague. Must admit I love this question. It is perhaps one of my reason d’être’s of being in business is to get small businesses noticed. When I first set out in marketing many moons ago it was very hard for a small business to compete against bigger companies who had the ability to out spend you in the days when the key communication tools tended to revolve round advertising, direct mail and press and pr. Today things are very different with the plethora of marketing communication tools that is now available to you. In some respects it is perhaps more daunting as which tools do you choose and where do you start? However I would argue that small businesses now are able to effectively market themselves and compete with the big guys. Firstly I believe that people are starting to believe that small is beautiful and that people want to buy and work with companies with integrity, who are experts in their field and who do not have complex management systems with dare I say it big bonuses. People buy people and you need to ensure that people buy from you. So how do you do it? Planning is Key – Make sure that you have an annual marketing plan. It doesn’t need to get you an A grade pass for a marketing exam and it doesn’t need to be lengthy. What it should do is allow you to look at the current marketplace, think about who your customers are, why they are customers of yours, how they heard about you, what communications you use to speak with them and which work and which don’t. What other customers do you want to attract and how should you do this? And most importantly when are you going to carry out the activity and how are you going to measure it? Be the Best – You may not be the biggest but you can be the best. Make sure that you know what your Unique Selling points are and then make sure that you communicate these to your customers and your potential customers. Make sure that you offer your existing customers a service that is superior to your competitors wow them so that they will sell your business for you. And make sure that your marketing communications are clean, well designed and with clear and concise communication. Use your Knowledge – You are an expert in your field make sure that you promote that. Become known as an expert by simply letting people know about your expertise and that you are willing to share it. You can do this by speaking at meetings, workshops and seminars. Contributing to relevant LinkedIn groups for your product. Commenting on blogs and making contact with relevant media in the business press or relevant trade magazine’s. Use and make use of your networks from on-line networks to business groups and of course your family and friends they can be ambassadors for you too! Once you are known as an expert you will find that people will come to you for comment. Be Innovative in Your Marketing – You may not have huge budgets but you can be innovative in how you spend your money. As mentioned give exemplary customer service to your existing customers which should include ways of thanking them for their business. Treat them to corporate days or lunches with a difference. They don’t have to be expensive just different. My husband’s is a partner in the law firm Davidson Chalmers. He realised that many of his clients had an interest in cycling so he has held very successful cycling days from mountain biking at Glentress to a historic cycling tour of old Edinburgh. Be innovative in how you market to new customers you may not be Wonderbra and have the ability to stop Oxford Street by showcasing your product in the window with real women wearing their bra’s. Or get our attention with the quirky Meerkat adverts. But you can still get people’s attention. Press and PR is an effective tool whither you have small or large budgets. Couple of examples from my marketing career. When I worked for the Scottish Borders Tourist Board we offered to buy back Berwick for £1 and staged a photo on the town’s walls. Result we got world-wide coverage for our audacious plan. Publicity we could not afford to buy. A small self catering operator in Lewis had limited budget for a press and pr campaign. We sent a message in a bottle filled with an invitation to visit and genuine Lewis sand and shells. Result our client got coverage in the national and regional press and most importantly new customers. Social Media is also a great way of getting your message across. Use these mediums and use them often and be clever about how you use them. Take Time – And this leads me on to my last point take time to market. Yes I know you are busy running a small business. But this is why you need to diary in time to do your marketing and make sure that you treat the marketing of your business as you would treat a client. And take time once a month just to evaluate your marketing for that month and see what went well and what could be improved. I would recommend time out of the office with a nice cup of coffee, a notebook and your marketing plan. You don’t need to spend lots of money on marketing but you do need to allocate time to it. Do this and marketing will reward you with happy existing customers, increased awareness of your business and new customers. Good luck!

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About fionadranesblog

40 plus mum of two married with a mad cocker spaniel. Along with two colleagues run Bright Light Marketing a rural marketing agency who specialise in getting rural businesss noticed. www.brightlightmarketing.co.uk. Live in St Boswells in the wonderful Scottish Borders. Love books, walking and living life to the full here in the Scottish Borders though its sometimes a juggle!
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One Response to How can the small guys compete with the big guys – when the big guys have more £££

  1. Some fab, simple, sensible tips & advice Fiona.
    Excellent!

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