I often hear people talk about how the Internet will help their business “level the playing field” or help their small business “run with the Big Dogs”, and while that may be true to an extent, it may not be a very good idea. The problem lies in the fact that small businesses are not the “Big Dogs” and trying to be something you are not, in business, rarely works.
Instead of trying to be, or even worse, pretend to be a large company in your online presence, you would be better served by focusing on the things that make your business unique. For instance, there are lots of large fast food franchises out there and they have huge budgets for advertising and promotion. Rather that try to become the next McWendy King, you would be better served by being yourself. Focus on the things that you can offer that the big guys can’t. That is where your niche in the online world lies.
I run a small business, myself, so I understand what it is like to try to compete with larger companies. Here are some things that I have learned that help a small business stand out against the bigger budgets and staff of larger companies. Maybe this will help you find some areas in your own company that you can promote and beat the bigger guys in the process.
Many of my clients have told me that the main reason they like doing business with me is that they get personal attention. I answer their calls or return them promptly and I respond to their emails within a short period of time. They also like the fact that I know who they are and what their business does and what their goals are. You can’t get that kind of personal attention from a company that treats you as an account number and not a person. Good, personal customer service is hard to find these days. If you offer it, people will notice.
Along with the personal attention, a small business can often provide more customized services or products. Your small business can often adapt to the specific needs of your customers and solve a problem for them that the larger services cannot. For instance, you can customize a personal selection of services rather than just provide a package option for your clients. This flexibility is something that most people want and yet few large companies are willing to offer this level of service to their customers. This is a good area to stand apart from your competition.
While operating with a smaller staff can make life kind of hectic, at times, there are still ways to make this work to your advantage. When you are fielding dozens or even hundreds of requests at a time (depending on the size of your company), instead of thousands or tens of thousands of requests at a time, you are in a position to fulfill those requests in a faster manner. Many of my client’s requests are simple changes to the content on their web site. They often take five or ten minutes to complete. If you are a large company, this request gets put into the queue and often takes days to get completed. As a smaller business, you can complete many of these tasks in just a few hours from the time the client requested them. This will make your client very happy.
As a small company, you often get to know your clients in ways that go beyond the “professional” level. Since they will call or email you directly, rather than sending in a support request to a large company, you will likely become a name they remember. With this level of relationship, you will likely get to know something about who they are in their personal life, also. If you work together long enough, you will probably learn more about their likes, dislikes, hobbies and more. Developing these relationships often leads to not only repeat business, but also leads to new client referrals. Plus, you might even make some new friends along the way.
If you take the time to look at your small business and what you have to offer, I’m sure you will see that there are lot’s of ways to beat out the “Big Dogs” without giving up your small company charm. Actually, that charm may just turn out to be your greatest strength.