There are many advantages to running a small business. You’ll have a small team, so you can form better bonds and have greater control over the culture. You’ll be able to treat each client as an individual and provide them with dedicated service. You may also be able to save money by carefully controlling your costs.
But one of the biggest disadvantages of running a small business is that you’ll have difficulty competing on the national stage. If you want to contend with big businesses who are already dominating the market in terms of visibility, you’ll need a massive budget to do it conveniently – which most small businesses don’t have.
So how can small businesses get noticed on the national stage – and truly compete with major players in the industry?
Get Noticed on the National Stage
First, you need to employ the right marketing strategies. Ideally, you’ll choose approaches that are accessible, so you can start practicing them immediately, flexible, so you can adjust your tactics to suit your needs, and relatively inexpensive, so they fit your budget.
These are some of your best options:
- PPC ads. With pay per click (PPC) ads, you’ll only pay for the people who actually click on your ad, so you won’t be wasting any money. You can also strictly refine your audience criteria so you can zero in on your target demographics precisely. Even better, as you learn more, you’ll gradually get more competent at this strategy, improving your ROI. And if you find that the competition is too strong on platforms like Google, there are plenty of alternative ad networks to try.
- SEO. Next, you can try search engine optimization (SEO). The basic idea here is to use a combination of onsite content, offsite content, and link building to increase your website’s domain authority, and rise in the rankings of search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s a time intensive process, but a very flexible and inexpensive one – plus, you can target specific keywords that aren’t currently dominated by competitors.
- Social media marketing. You can create a social media account for free and start posting right now. It’s the perfect tool to nurture your existing fans, reach new people, and promote your content all at the same time.
Target a Smaller Audience
Next, try targeting a smaller audience. If you’re going after the same broad pool of customers as a major competitor, you’re going to struggle; this is one way to take them out of the equation.
- Restrict your demographic targets. Is there a narrow demographic range you can target? Can you focus on a different age group, income level, or education level? If you find a group that your competitors aren’t interested in, you can generate a major advantage.
- Adjust your pricing. It’s tough to compete on price, but if you can offer an attractive product at a lower price level, you’ll have a much easier time persuading customers to buy from your business.
- Focus on a different part of the buying cycle. You may also be able to evade mainstream competitors by focusing on customers in a different phase of the buying cycle.
Create and Emphasize Unique Differentiators
Similarly, you should work to identify the factors that make your business truly unique – and include them in all your marketing materials, front and center.
Unique differentiators could include things like:
- Price. A lower price is always valuable, assuming you can afford to lower your profit margins to do it.
- Quality. You may be able to justify a higher price than the competition, if your products are of demonstrably better quality.
- Customer service. Customers are willing to pay more for good customer service. If you have a good reputation in this area, flaunt it.
- Brand voice and style. Sometimes, a different approach to messaging and brand reputation is all it takes to make yourself stand out.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
You won’t be able to compete directly with big businesses by spamming direct mail flyers or taking over every SERP you can find – you simply don’t have the budget to do it. Instead, focus on quality over quantity in everything you do. Place one very good ad instead of ten lackluster ones. Write one comprehensive piece of content rather than ten half-hearted blog posts. Build a relationship with the people interested in your brand rather than constantly chasing after new people.
It’s definitely not easy to compete on the national stage as a small business, but it is possible. If you’re willing to be patient, focus on quality, and adjust your tactics, you’ll be in a position to reach entirely new audience segments – and increase the footprint of your brand.
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