It’s easy to understand why, when you’re new to it, you might imagine that marketing a small business doesn’t differ a whole lot from marketing for a medium-sized or large company. In reality, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth! Let’s explore how your business size impacts marketing.
Small business marketing is its own beast entirely. It might look the same, but overall, it is built on a very different foundation. In this post, I’ll explore some of the ways in which it differs to help you on your way to establish a successful small business marketing approach.
1. You need to be more focused
Compared to a larger company, a small business equals a small team and a small budget. So much as though you might want to, you can’t possibly do “all of the things” when it comes to your marketing. Your business size impacts marketing in many ways, but this is a really crucial one to consider.
To make the best use of your limited resources, you have to focus on what is most likely to help you achieve your goals. That’s why when marketing a small business, having a sound marketing strategy in place is far more important than it is for larger companies.
Rather than throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, you have to be a lot more measured: What makes you stand out from your competition? How can you best reach your ideal clients? Take your time to research which marketing activities make the most sense for you, and focus all your time and money on those.
It also means you shouldn’t rush to join in on every new trend. As a small business owner, you have less time available, and a smaller team to take on these projects. So before jumping on to the newest social media platform, question if it’s really the right fit. Do you really need something extra to juggle? Consistently working on two or three marketing channels is much more valuable than dipping in and out of six or more!
2. Your customers aren’t just numbers
When you are marketing a large business, you have a lot of data on hand to work with. This could be market research, sales figures, website stats or social media numbers. And it helps you see trends, behaviours and what your target audience is looking for and why.
But as small business owner, with a smaller target audience, you’re less likely to have access to representative data like that. So when it comes to research and stats, small business marketing has to rely on qualitative research rather than quantitative. And that can be a really positive thing!
Instead of letting hard facts and numbers inform your marketing decisions, qualitative research is much more like running a small business – direct and personal. It means going straight to your customers and listening to what they have to say. This could look like surveys, requests for testimonials, or even simply an after-sales call to check in on their experience.
While you might not have thousands of online impressions to track, speaking to your customers is a great way of getting authentic feedback. And it can help to build your relationship with them and cement trust in your brand.
Speaking of after-sales calls, I have an entire post on why your marketing shouldn’t stop with the sale. Check it out here.
3. It’s easier to find your niche
When exploring how your business size impacts marketing, finding your niche is a really important factor. The bigger your business, the broader your position within the market is likely to be. This sounds like a positive thing. And for huge, iconic brands that have been around forever, it can be.
However, the truth is that for most businesses, fewer products are easier to handle and to market. The bigger you get, the harder it is to position yourself and the less distinctive you will be. This can be disheartening if you start out with a passion for one particular area, and you end up having to widen your services or product library.
Ultimately, it becomes a numbers game. Whereas, when your business is small, you can stay true to the original vision of the brand. You can have a small but powerful niche, making marketing your products and services much simpler. Your ads don’t need to be generic, they can be focused on that core group you have set out to serve.
So make a point of really honing in on your niche. Understanding it and catering to those customers specifically can be transformational for a small business.
4. You have to be more organised
The reality is that the smaller the business, the smaller the budget is likely to be. This can feel overwhelming when seeing how much money bigger businesses have to pour into things like product development and advertising. But, as mentioned above, it’s just about being strategic!
When sales are slow or something goes wrong within a small business, you can’t throw money at the problem. With fewer resources, it’s crucial to spend time working on a) how you’re spending your money and b) how you’re spending your time. Both of these things become important parts of your small business marketing strategy.
So, when marketing a small business you have to make sure you know where all of your money is going. What systems and processes do you have in place to streamline your work week? How many staff members do you have and are they being properly utilised? And which marketing activities work and which don’t?
5. You have more flexibility
One of the biggest differences between small and larger businesses is having fewer people involved. This is positive for a number of reasons.
First of all, you can afford to be pickier when it comes to clients or customers. You don’t have the time or resources to take on everyone – but you don’t have pressure from stakeholders or high overheads to bring in X amount of clients every month either. So your marketing can focus on quality over quantity, targeting your ideal clients rather than trying to appeal to everyone.
Also, fewer people equals faster decision-making. In bigger businesses, having a lot of people with different opinions means it can take days, sometimes weeks, to agree on a decision. And we have all heard about the issues that come with ‘decisions by committee’. When your business is small, you can often get through the planning stage much more efficiently without a watered-down decision as result.
Finally, having fewer people to answer to gives you so much more freedom in terms of your small business marketing. You don’t have to explain your decisions to anyone but future you – and if you’ve taken the time to build a well-researched strategy, future you should be happy with the results!
Of course, it can sometimes feel a little isolating, especially if you’re solely in charge. Being part of a bigger team has a lot of benefits, even just in terms of bouncing ideas around. But the time you’ll save is extremely valuable. And who says you can’t surround yourself with fellow small business owners and like-minded professionals to get the feedback and support you need.
I hope this post has given you some food for thought on how your business size impacts marketing. Keeping these factors in mind when building your small business strategy can be a real game changer!
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Tactics
Why Business is Quiet and How to Turn Things Around
Long-Term & Short-Term Marketing Tactics – How to Get the Right Mix
Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: Why You Need One & How to Define it