One of the first steps to becoming a successful business is studying the competition. How do they communicate with their customers? Are their goods and services high quality? Are they failing to reach an important niche audience? The information you gather will allow you a deeper insight into what others in the business are doing right or wrong. Then, you can find ways to do them better.
Even small businesses can study and respond in this way. In fact, most of them have unique advantages over their larger competitors. If your company capitalizes on these opportunities, you can compete with — and surpass — even the hugest brands.
There are several perks to being a small business, and one is the opportunity to establish great relationships with your customers. When you purchase something from a larger company like Walmart or Adidas, you probably don’t think of it as a relationship. You’ve never spoken to the owner or any corporate heads. In fact, you might not have even talked to a single person during the exchange if you used self-checkout or ordered an item online.
Small businesses, however, have the unique advantage of creating personal relationships. When people buy your products, they speak with you directly and you look them in the eyes and shake their hands. You get to know one another, and you might even create and maintain an open line of communication, offering advice, solutions or input. This provokes more interest in your products or services. Greeting them by name, offering them deals, and expressing interest and concern will show your customers you care.
Become an Expert in Your Field
You can also use size to your advantage when it comes to knowledge and expertise in your field. Local startups and family-owned establishments often meet a certain need within the community. They build a brand to serve the needs of those around them. Thus, they typically have an immense amount of experience within their niche. Of course, they have to since they often don’t have enough workers to expand their focus. Usually, this works to their advantage.
For example, Raybuck Auto Body Parts, a small husband-and-wife startup, has been offering high-quality service at a reasonable price to the public for more than 30 years. Since it’s a small business, it has a well-seasoned staff that is knowledgeable and experienced, even more so than competing companies like NAPA or AutoZone. If customers have a question, they’re invited to contact the staff or even the owner directly. That kind of knowledge and customer service is unheard of in huge corporations.
Personalize the Experience
Because your small business can establish unique personal relationships and offer reliable, expert knowledge, it can give customers a personalized buying experience. While big brands lose touch with niche audiences, small ones target each customer specifically. In the world of small business, everyone matters and deserves attention. Of course, you can only market yourself to every customer if you listen to and understand each one.
Therefore, it’s incredibly important that you listen to feedback, read reviews and ask customers questions regarding the quality of your products and services. You need to understand their thoughts and feelings. Where are they coming from? What are their needs and desires? Invest time in answering these questions, and then tailor your marketing efforts, products and everything else to give the customer exactly what they want.
While smaller is better in some ways, it certainly won’t hurt to have a few like-minded business partners on your team. Partnering with other companies can give you the one-up when larger brands move into your area and start offering better prices. By joining with other local businesses, you can offer promotions and special deals to compete with larger companies’ prices. Working with your partner, you may find a price that benefits both you and the customer.
Moreover, partnering with other businesses will allow you to reinvest more money into your community. This increases your exposure and builds your reputation locally. Plus, your customers would likely rather see you funnel their money back into the region instead of watching a huge brand take it away. Working with a partner can be a huge positive for both you and your customers, and it will help keep the competition at bay.
A Healthy Competition
Small businesses don’t need to be at the mercy of huge corporations. By implementing these tips, your company can thrive and become a staple in the community.
Scott Huntington is a writer who lives in Vermont and covers the world of business, tech, and more. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.