Most businesses want to be what they are not. A large business wants to appear small and personal while a small business wants to appear larger and more stable. Customer perception can be created through marketing communications – print collateral, advertising, website design, social media marketing, etc. Small businesses must remember that it’s okay to be small and being positioned as a small business has its own selling points. Let’s not forget how many large businesses try to appear like small businesses. Corporate behemoths such as Kashi, Starbucks, and State Farm, want to be positioned as the friendly neighborhood brand that helps enhance your life. If the “big boys” are doing this, why not accept your small firm for what it is? Being small is a competitive advantage and we will discuss how to maximize the positives of being small and minimize the negatives.
Cohesive Brand Message
Every high performing large company communicates a consistent brand message to their target market. Many do it so well that their target market can repeat the brand message word for word. A small business can appear larger than it is by developing a consistent, compelling brand message in all marketing communications. This means that the firm’s website, capabilities brochure, social media messaging, etc. all complement each other. Branding is not just about consistent “look and feel” among marketing platforms but also consistent selling points that differentiate the firm from the competition. For instance, when a visitor lands on a firm’s website, they immediately know what the business stands for and what makes it different. There cannot be any mystery.
Many customers would prefer to hire a small business over a large one. A customer’s primary concern is the reliability of a small business. Can a small business be relied upon to deliver quality service in a timely manner? Many customers make a judgment on small business reliability through a firm’s marketing communications. If a small business can articulate its brand message in a dependable manner, this is a good indicator that it can deliver on its services.
Greatest Negative into a Positive
If you are a small business, you must embrace it! Being small needs to be part of your firm’s unique value proposition. Don’t hide from it. Think of the positive characteristics associated with a small business: personal, local, friendly, attentive, communicative, less overhead, less bureaucracy, etc. Make sure your business has discipline and is not linked with any negative descriptors: unstable, inexperienced, incompetent, provincial, “small time.”
As you become comfortable with your firm’s small image, make sure to include brand taglines that incorporate the positive traits. If your firm has a compelling website design, strong capabilities brochure, etc. the less likely your firm will be linked with the negative traits.
Deliver on your Brand Promise
Perception is critical. Marketing communications help create perceived differences in your target audience’s mind. However, no matter how well your firm’s website is designed and how innovative your marketing strategy is, if you can’t deliver on your brand promise, your company will be doomed. Make sure that your firm can actually deliver on what it says. Effective marketing communications will attract the right customers with the right expectations. The next and more important challenge is to meet or exceed those expectations.
There are many companies that have a cohesive, compelling brand message but they actually cannot deliver on what they promise – perception and reality could not be farther apart. As a small business, you cannot overpromise and underdeliver. As a marketer, be entrenched in your business’ operations and truly know what your firm can do for its customers.
A small business utilizes various marketing tactics to attract and retain ideal customers. A website will help draw the right customers and if designed properly, it will contain valuable resources that in turn, build confidence in a prospective customer’s mind. The overall objective of all marketing tactics is really to build confidence in a prospect’s mind. If a small business can do this, it will generate consistent business with its target market.