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4 Ways Small Businesses Can Compete Against the Major Competitors For a small business to strive and win competitors in an industry, use these strategies.

By Pius Boachie Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Moving into a new city or job can be daunting, the hassle of finding accommodation, the stress of moving personal items and most especially the people or city accepting someone new might not be pleasing.

The same applies to small businesses that are launching into an industry ridden with bigger competitors. For an SMB, finding a niche can be time-consuming but rewarding on the long-term.

In the article below, I will be sharing 4 effective marketing strategies for SMB's against bigger competitors.

Related: Stand Toe to Toe With Legacy Giants by Investing in a Data Strategy

1. Niche down

Small businesses need to go laser focused on a chosen market segment. I am talking hyper focused, zeroed down to the barest minimum then expand from there as they grow.

To compete and beat bigger rivals in the industry, SMB's need to focus on their basic consumers. Basic consumers can range from college students to a particular demographic. Recognizing and marketing to the basic consumers allow for quick sales, more revenue for marketing and the ability to grow a following.

A perfect example can be found in Red Bull. Co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz started his little-canned drink with no specific market in mind, and even with no competition in the energy drink industry, sales were slow. Consumers could not decide if Red Bull was a sports stimulant or a soft drink. So, Mateschitz went back to the drawing board and laser-targeted a market segment (students) and marketed to them relentlessly by sponsoring events, throwing campaigns, devotional social media challenges.

By targeting a specific market, Red Bull was able to build a following, sales skyrocketed and growth exploded. Right now, Red Bull can be found in almost every athletic or sports events holding a market share of 50 percent in Canada and 46 percent in the US as at 2011.

Key Takeaway: If you're starting a business in a market that has established competitors, you need to niche down to strive then win it. Dig deeper and find untapped subcategories in your market, sell to that core customer then expand.

2. Pick your angle and flaunt it

You're in business to solve a problem for consumers. Now to strive and beat the anacondas in the room, you need to hold a competitive angle and flaunt it.

Related: The Secret to Outpacing Your Rival? Competitive Insights.

Winning customers over is all about effective storytelling. Your competitive angle (which will be your story) can be the reason you started your business (origin story), the value attached to your products/service or the difference between your products/service (product story).

Your job as the founder is to find your angle and turn it into a story which can be shown to customers in your marketing campaigns and website.

Your competitive angle for an amazing marketing story can be any of the following:

  • Responsiveness to customer complaints, inquiries. How long do you take? Let them know.
  • Business A uses cheap packaging and yours is more alluring? Tell your target customers.
  • Business B products are not totally safe and yours is eco-friendly? Tell your customers.
  • Got a celebrity on your team or some smart-ass on the team? Tell your customers.
  • Offer better courier service than business B. Make it into a video for your customers.

Businesses such as Apple and Sony have used innovation as a competitive angle, IKEA boasts of its ability to provide superior furniture at affordable rates and these stories are always reflected in their marketing schemes.

Key Takeaway: The list is endless, head back to the drawing board and make a board full list of the difference between you and your competitors and make it into stories for your consumers.

3. Jaw dropping products and services

According to a new study from Microsoft, since the year 2000, the average attention span of humans has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds.

In relation to business owners, you have less than 8 seconds to convince a customer about your products wherever they find them. Your website should pop and grab customers' attention allowing them to understand your products or business.

Design your website to make valuable promises about your products and experience them. With a laser-targeted customer base, your products should be designed for your customers, it should deliver a valuable promise and experience which is entirely new and different from your competitors.

Back in the 80s when IBM and Microsoft produced PC's, Apple came along with something revolutionary. As a new business, you need to build cheaper, better and different products which will earn you your spotlight.

Key Takeaway: Create products with a hook, something revolutionary and at the same time valuable to your customers.

4. Customer service and relationship should be your sidekick

One huge advantage of being a small business is the ability to interact with customers directly removing the bottlenecks and bureaucracy of larger businesses. Creating space to deliver better experiences and exceed customer expectations.

Your ability to respond to emails, inquiries, send handwritten "thank you" notes and solve complaints results in amazing customer experiences which yield more customers through word of mouth marketing, online reviews and social media channels.

Key Takeaway: Better customer service and relationship should be a top priority for any small business looking to beat competitors and win new customers over, SMB's should invest in quality CRM and customer services tools.

Related: 6 Timeless Strategies That Drive Successful Entrepreneurship

For a small business to strive and win competitors in an industry, the above strategies should be applied to a marketing budget and time frame to measure effectiveness and ROI.

Pius Boachie

Founder, DigitiMatic | Content Marketing Agency

Pius Boachie is a Nigeria-based inbound marketing consultant. He works closely with B2C and B2B businesses providing digital marketing content that gains social media attention and increas search-engine visibility. On his blog, Digitimatic, he shares actionable marketing and branding advice for businesses.



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