I’m a small business, how do I compete with the ‘Big Guys’?

big business vs. small business, business, big, small, marketing, branding

Big business vs. Small business

Your small business is so important, although I’m sure you already knew this. It sustains you, and your family, but MORE importantly it supports the community. This past week, I travelled to a few major markets in the US (aka big cities), and noticed something that didn’t bother me at first, but now that it has had time to sink in, really bothered me.

More and more suburbs, communities, etc… are lacking small businesses. Local coffee shops are being replaced or already have been replaced by Starbucks. Community markets are being replaced by Box Store Groceries, and small towns are being replaced by Wal-Mart’s. Big business is quick to scoop up the little guy or over power them, and what’s being lost is authenticity. Even though I travelled to three large cities within a few hours of each other, they all felt the same. Even the small towns along the freeway resembled each other.

Small business is REALLY GOOD for the community

It’s been shown time, and time again the money consumers spend at LOCAL small businesses stays in the community whereas the money spent at a national or international business lines the pockets of someone at a HQ hundreds of miles away (this is usually called the Local Multiplier Effect). Local small business is the backbone of any / all communities. A Wal-Mart in a small town used to be cheered with joy as if to say, “We’re finally on the map!” Now, people are realizing, a Wal-Mart in a small town is a death sentence. It cripples small business, therefore crippling the community. And worse off, after Wal-Mart sucks up all the money, and shutters the local business community, they have no use for the town, and they close up shop. Leaving people unemployed, and towns far worse off than they were before Wally showed up.

In this case, Wal-Mart can represent any big box chain. I’m lucky enough to live in a community where big business, and small business are balanced. If I want to go to the community market, and pick up fresh produce from local farmers, I can do that. If I want a cup of free-trade coffee, from an independent coffee shop, I can do that too. I also have the ability to go to Home Depot or Starbucks, etc…However, I find myself trying to spend more, and more money with the little guy because I know that money stays within the community I live in.

How to compete as a small business

Using the above to your advantage, you can claim, and keep your fair share of business. Here’s what you have, and the big box chains don’t:

  • A face to the name (you own the business, and you’re in the community).
  • The money spent at your business WILL stay in the community.
  • More personalized service.
  • Ability to adjust to a customers needs (big box chains have lines of standardized procedures, you have more flexibility).
  • You can OWN the community when it comes to top-of-mind awareness.
  • You are a small business, so you don’t have to pretend to be a ‘big guy.’
  • And many more…

Based on the points above, here’s how you can capitalize on your small businesseyness (I’m aware this isn’t a word):

  • Put up your picture, with your personal phone number in your establishment (this literally puts a face to the name of your business).
  • SHOW the consumer how the money spent at your business stays in the community (showcase a local event you’re sponsoring or put up a picture of the local farming family where your grocery store gets its produce).
  • Every chance you get say, and showcase how you’re different than the big box store. Don’t be afraid to attack them. You are merely a blip on the big box radar, so you don’t have to worry about retaliation.
  • If I went around the community where your business is located, and asked 100 people if they could recall your businesses name, how many do you think would be able to do it? Now, if I did the same thing for Starbucks, how many do you think would be able to do it? You can improve your top-of-mind awareness within a 10KM radius of your business by splashing your community with marketing. Big business isn’t concerned about the 1,700 households within your community. They’re worried about the masses, so eat into their market share within your community. You can dominate! (More on domination HERE)
  • Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Be open, and honest about who you are to your customers. If you can’t finance like Home Depot, don’t worry about it, just be sure to INFORM your customers why you don’t finance. They will appreciate your honesty, and this will strengthen the bond they have with your business.

You are who you are, and there’s no changing that. You’re more personal than the big box chains will ever be, and you support the community like the ‘big guys’ can’t. Be sure to play this up time, and time again. Besides, everyone likes an underdog.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

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Is brand extension hurting your brand?

Tims & the new Oreo donut

Tims Oreo Donut

If I asked you who had an Oreo treat available this summer, what restaurant would you say? DQ? McDonald’s? Your local ice cream shop? Nope. It’s Tim Hortons.

Have you noticed Tims continues to get further and further away from marketing what made them famous? What ever happened to their coffee? All I hear and see is marketing for their new Oreo treats or their Greek Yogurt. It makes me wonder if McDonald’s and Starbucks are taking away their share of the coffee market.

A year ago, I couldn’t walk around my office without seeing Tims cups. Now, it’s Starbucks, McDonald’s or the office K-Cup brew. I’ve heard rumours McDonald’s has the contract Tims used to have for its coffee supplier. Does McDonalds coffee taste better? Does Tims coffee taste worst? Or have we stopped thinking about it because Tims has stopped informing us about their coffee?

I don’t know what Tim Hortons stands for any more. Is it coffee? Is it donuts? Is it an Oreo treat?

The same thing is happening with Subway. Since when does Subway have pizzas? I thought they were ‘Sandwich Artists,’ not ‘Pizza Artists.’

Good ol’ brand extension.

You add different items under your brand name to try and lure people to purchase these items because your brand is already familiar to them. Should I get a Tims Oreo treat? “Sure, I like their coffee, so why not try their Oreo treat.” That’s what Tims wants. Unfortunately, it also hurts what made them famous…COFFEE. If you have a bad experience with the treat, you’ll notice you’ll start having negative feelings toward their coffee (or Oreo). That’s the trouble with brand extension.

Why do you think Proctor & Gamble rarely uses their company name when marketing their products? You hear of Swiffer, Tide, Crest, etc… but rarely P&G. You each have feelings about these products, but if you have a bad experience with Tide, you probably won’t have ill feelings toward Swiffer. However, if it was P&G Tide or P&G Swiffer, your thoughts would probably change.

The same goes with YOU and your personal brand. What do people think about you? What are their expectations? Are you being true to yourself or are you over extending your brand? Be careful not to stretch too far or people will forget what made you famous.

Check out this latest example from Amazon and their earnings. They’re trying to stretch too far from what made them famous hurting their earnings: CLICK HERE

Love you,