Large businesses have the advantage of large budgets for advertising, social media and promotions. Small businesses are always looking for ways to compete with the big guys and with their smaller competitors. This may seem daunting at first, but the truth is that small businesses have one advantage over larger businesses – the personal touch.
Big businesses put a lot of money into bringing personality into their brands, but they are ultimately hampered by the fact that their customer base is just too large for them to get to know each person who comes through their doors. Small businesses, on the other hand, can get up close and personal with each customer and build long-term relationships which breed loyalty and continuous custom.
Big companies conduct market research to find out what their customers want. Small business owners have it much easier – they just ask their customers directly.
Small businesses can more easily respond to customer’s unstated needs and delight them unexpectedly. Say a customer comes into your store looking for a dress to wear to her sister’s wedding. After you help her find the perfect dress, you include a complimentary hair accessory to complete the look. Your customer may not have even thought about her hairstyle yet, but you have anticipated her needs and saved her time and money.
You can delight your customers when they come into a physical store and also online. Send out an e-greeting for your customer’s birthday, including a discount for that month and recommendations for specific products. Send out seasonal reminders on social media and through e-mail, mentioning appropriate products. Let your customers know what you recommend as a Christmas gift for their children or what you think is the perfect Mother’s Day gift. Think about what they will be doing in the summer, and gear your sales towards products they can really use at that time of the year. Put together a discounted “winter package” with everything they will need for a cozy weekend at home.
The better you know your customers, the more you can delight them by solving their problems before they even knew they had them.
Another advantage that small businesses have over large ones is the ability to cultivate a unique personality. Whether you want to be known as quirky, reliable, adventurous or cutting edge, it’s easy to impart that to customers both in person and online. Design your store or office space to reflect that persona. Your website, newsletter and social media designs should reflect that as well. When you write content for distribution, your brand personality should shine through.
Having a consistent voice and brand personality means that your customers feel that they know you as well as you know them. This turns your relationship with them into a two-way street and ensures that they keep coming back to you even if the big chains seem to be offering a better deal. Coupled with customer service that goes above and beyond and focuses on delighting the customer, you can easily compete with the bigger brands.