The world of online competition can be intimidating for a small business as you struggle to compete with some of the biggest brands.
Yet these brands face marketing obstacles of their own, and these factors reveal the major advantages to having a smaller business to promote online.
Instead of trying to compete on their terms - often an impossible task without the resources available to larger companies - begin to see their weaknesses as your strengths.
Here are 4 ways your small business can compete with major brands online:
Size can give a company a competitive edge, but any scale of business comes with its own challenges.
Retail giants such as Amazon benefit from selling an extensive range of products, but this means they are not specialists in a particular industry.
Without this focus, larger companies are unlikely to have the expertise to offer exclusive, personalised advice to customers.
As a small business, you can demonstrate your expertise and specialist knowledge on a particular topic or product through blog posts.
This establishes your brand as a trustworthy, reliable source, and publishing informative posts relevant to your industry will also help to attract new customers.
Small businesses also have the advantage of ranking highly for very specific Google searches.
A multinational corporation will be appearing in the search results for extremely generalised keywords, so will be forced to compete with thousands of other businesses.
A search for a specific location, however, is far more likely to suggest a small business in the area – such as ‘florists in Canterbury’ or ‘plumbers in Wolverhampton’.
It can be helpful to make a list of keywords that people are likely to use when searching for your product or service, and then adjust the content on your website and social media to include these key terms.
Creating a Google My Business listing will allow you to specify what information you would like Google to display about your business in the dedicated Knowledge Panel section within the search results.
This can include a description of your business and details such as your address and opening times.
Creating this listing is free and comes with many SEO (search engine optimization) benefits, making it essential for encouraging potential customers who are searching online to click on your website rather than your competitors’.
Establishing a trustworthy public image can be far easier for a local business than it is for a multinational corporation.
One of the most effective ways to establish this is through customer feedback.
A review by a satisfied customer validates everything you claim on your website and social media accounts, but it is something people are rarely inclined to do.
You could provide your customers with the perfect service and this still may not be enough to encourage them to leave a glowing review.
Nevertheless, customers are far more likely to leave positive feedback for a local business that has provided them with a personal service than they are for a faceless national brand.
A gentle reminder in the form of a note on a receipt or an email to a mailing list can give them a push in the right direction.
Chasing up this feedback is worth it, as having reviews will assure potential customers that their experience with your company will be a positive one.
People will also be more inclined to leave feedback for your business if you ask them in person – this is something that larger retailers are unable to do, meaning that over time, you have the opportunity to accrue more positive reviews than your bigger competitors.
On a public platform, how you interact with your customers will be under constant scrutiny.
It is likely that as a small business owner you can be more attentive to your customers’ needs than larger brands, who may opt for an auto-generated response over a carefully thought-out reply.
Responding to even the most negative of comments is important for demonstrating that you are considerate of your customers’ needs.
Quite simply, it shows that you really care about and value your customers.
Satisfying the demands of a disgruntled customer in a polite and compassionate manner turns this exchange into positive promotion for your business.
It's also worth remembering that most people will opt to shop online out of convenience, so a simple, relaxed buying experience should be a priority when competing with other online stores.
In addition to a delivery or click-and-collect service, there are other extras to offer which can add value to your product or service.
These can include gift wrapping, discounts for regular customers, and a good returns policy.
In order to really deliver a great customer experience you need an online store you can rely on, and our ecommerce website package can offer you exactly that.
It’s ideal for providing shoppers with the kind of convenient buying process that will set you apart from your competitors, ensuring online shopping is a hassle-free experience for both you and your customers.
Don’t underestimate how important your website is for increasing customer confidence in your business.
There’s a reason big brands spend vast amounts of money developing and maintaining their websites each year - just the look and feel of your site alone is enough to convince someone to do business with you or not.
It all comes down to how professional you appear – a DIY website that you’ve hastily put together, or a site that’s not been properly updated in years, won’t be creating the best first impression of your company for potential customers.
People are much more likely to make a purchase or enquire about your services if you have a clean and contemporary website that’s been created by skilled web designers, even if they’ve never heard of your business before.
In fact, research has shown that 75% of people will judge the credibility of a company based on the design of its website, with 94% of people believing that a website with a good design is more trustworthy.
The good news is that as a small business, you don’t need to spend anywhere near the amounts that the major players are for quality web design.
You can still wow your customers with a great user experience and a brilliantly designed website without going over budget, making it far easier for you to show your credibility on the web.
At TheMillCreek.net, every website we create is professionally designed, so you can get a website that’s tailored to your business requirements, packed full of great features, and designed with a premium look and feel – without paying the premium prices that major brands will be shelling out for their websites.
So there you have it, 4 ways to compete with major brands online using your position as a small business to your advantage.
Show your expertise, your professionalism, and your credibility, and make sure you’re providing your customers with a fantastic service when they do business with you, and you’ll soon convince your target market that they’re making the right decision by choosing you.