Whether you have just started out or you’re focusing on a niche part of the market, being a business on a smaller scale can come with challenges and hiccups along the road to success. In order to survive, business owners and managers cannot succumb to the intimidation of larger, corporate competitors.
In this article we will discuss how small businesses can stand out in the ever growing sea of corporate sales funnels and money hungry predators.
Firstly and the most important and obvious way that a business will succeed in standing out is to have a unique selling point. A unique selling point is something that differentiates a business from its competitors or puts them in a totally new and niche segment of the market.
A really cool and successful example of having a unique selling point is the Vegetarian Shoe store located in Brighton, UK. They saw an opportunity in the shoe market and also the need for environmentally friendly vegetarian alternatives in items that aren’t just food based. Since opening in 1990, they have remained a small, niche business but have seen hardly any competition as they are the leader in their market.
In order to set your business aside from potentially many others, you have to think about what it is you offer or could offer to consumers that nobody else does. This could be in regards to the actual product or service being provided, the delivery process or the after care options offered. Look at every aspect of your business and judge if there is anything you could do to provide an exceptional experience for your customers. And if there is, what do you have to do to get there?
Another example of this is the roll out of Amazon promising to provide one day delivery on more than 10 million products sold on their website to Prime customers. Although this move was successful in obtaining Prime members, it is also revolutionary and other businesses such as Walmart and ASOS have started to offer the same delivery schedule.
When trying to discover your business's unique selling point it is important to put yourself in your customers' shoes to understand why they are buying from you or why they are going to your competitors. Is it convenience, price, location, quality? If you are struggling to understand your customer’s motives, why not ask them? Communicate with them to find out what they do and don’t like about your products or services compared to competitors.
There have been a strong collection of marketing campaigns that have gone viral and in proportion to that, the business’s brand, sales and retention has skyrocketed. However there has also been a fair share of rookie marketing errors.
My favourite marketing campaign gone wrong is the 80s American Airlines AAirPass which offered unlimited first class flights for $250,000. In a position of financial struggle, American Airlines had hoped this strategy would raise a fortune and as time went on, it was found that thousands of people were taking multiple first class flights each year, ultimately costing the business and creating a very, very large loss in revenue. The damage didn’t stop there, after passengers passes were attempted to be revoked, many a lawsuit followed…
When it comes to advertising online and offline, there can be a fine line between knowing what you’re customers wants and needs are and assuming what you’re customers wants and needs are. Depending on which side of the line your business is on, you can benefit or suffer greatly from a marketing campaign.
Potentially the most iconic and influential marketing campaign of all time is Nike’s world-famous ‘Just Do It’ slogan. When first launched in 1988, the company’s revenue was $800 million, 2 years after launching this campaign, sales reached and exceeded $2 billion. Targeting consumers who want to live an active lifestyle and enjoy exercise, not only need great workout clothes and accessories but also need that bit of motivation to achieve this. Nike knew it’s customer base well and nailed the needs and wants of their customers through this simple slogan.
As a small business it is understandable that the marketing budget you have is likely to be slightly less than others, however, this shouldn’t limit you to getting the most out of your campaign.
Focus on what is in front of you already. Your local area is a community full of opportunities for free marketing and networking. You could print flyers or place advertisements around the area in high footfall spots or collaborate with other local businesses in terms of sponsorship or events. Getting your business’s name out into the local area is the best free way to increase your customer base. More importantly, having a local customer base leads to more chance of a higher customer retention as many of us are happy to help and want to help our local community.
Reviews & Referrals
Don’t be scared to ask your customers to provide reviews on your website or on sites such as Google, if the service and product you have presented was of a high quality then you shouldn’t be afraid to ask and your customers should be more than happy to oblige. Also ask for your customers to give word of mouth referrals to their friends and family about your business. Even more so, provide an excellent service and product and so that you shouldn’t have to ask for referrals.
Did you know that 84% of people purchase a product due to a referral?
To keep a customer is often more important in the long term than it is to achieve one in the first place. Customer retention is substantially cheaper and easier than the processes implemented to gain customers. Once a customer is loyal, there is a slim chance that they would ever throw their trust to your competitor, they might test out the options but ultimately they will always come back to you.
By creating a deeper relationship with your customers, you are saving yourself costs and developing secure financial promises. A business may collect the emails and contact details of their customers so that they are able to send them relevant sales and offers, leading to more sales. However, whatever you do, do not spam your customers with offer after offer, forcing them to travel down the sales funnel. Provide them with information and deals that they will actually enjoy and purchase.
Give potential customers the opportunity to use your product or service before they commit to investing in it. Everyone loves a freebie or discount, so if you can, offer this. If marketed to the correct target audience, chances are consumers will enjoy your product or service and will return to purchase it.
It is said that the attention span of an adult can be as low as 5 to 10 minutes. This being said, your business pitch needs to be flawless every time it is proposed in order to grab the attention and curiosity of everybody who hears it. People admire confidence and are more likely to trust a brand if the person pitching it to them are confident and sure of everything they are saying. You could have a terrible business idea but if you are confident explaining it and showing how it works, it is likely that people will trust you, that’s just what humans do.
One of the first things you should consider when building a business brand are your core values and company mission in regards to the culture of the workforce, ideal customers and how you are going to behave as a role model. By simply being a business that is transparent with its customers and has morally correct operations in all areas, will gain the trust of consumers. Acknowledging your business’s mission can also help to establish what divides you from the rest and then you are able to use this to your advantage.
More so than not, the logo of a brand can set itself apart from its competitors. As the saying goes, an image speaks a thousand words and when it comes to logos, this couldn’t be more true. For example, Apple’s simple but sleek logo reflects their brand in terms of quality and simplicity. When creating a logo, make it memorable and reflective of your brand.
The psychology of colour plays a particularly large role in eliciting certain feelings and emotions in its customers through branding. Signature colours attached to a brand can increase brand recognition by 80%. So make sure you choose the right colour for your target audience and do your research!
Although it may be daunting, every business ever to exist started somewhere. The largest and most successful businesses were all once small businesses and struggled to find the best way to stand out. If they can do it, so can you.
The Author: Jasmine Nash
At 20 years old, Jasmine Nash is one of the youngest members at Tillison Consulting. Writing for a broad spectrum of online clients experienced in lifestyle, home, and business topics. When Jasmine is not crafting content she is supporting and engaging in the fight for equality to make the world a better place.