Small businesses can develop very successful marketing strategies that will help them grow their business. Here we outline some of the differences between small business marketing and corporate marketing strategies to help you consider and identify what will be most effective for your small business…
Small Business Marketing
The simple answer is yes, small business marketing does differ from corporate marketing, but perhaps not as much as you might think, as many of the principles remain the same. Yes, a larger corporate company will have sizeable resources, with multi-disciplined teams and bigger budgets, but equally they will have greater challenges.
SME’s (small to medium sized enterprises) can be much more flexible. There is a lot less bureaucracy in a small business, meaning decisions can be made quicker thereby enabling these businesses to pivot much more easily, as we saw suring the pandemic.
In this latest article, we’ve outlined some of the key marketing differences between the two entities to help you understand this further:
- Target audience
Small business marketers generally have a more specific target audience than their counterparts in corporate. This is typically because they will have fewer resources to reach a wider audience perhaps because of production capabilities or sales channels. Small businesses therefore need to be more strategic in their marketing efforts and focus on reaching the people who are most likely to be interested in their products or services.
Small businesses also have fewer resources to dedicate to marketing than corporate businesses, be it the number of people – although outsourcing your marketing is always a viable option and a flexible alternative to headcount – and/or budget. This means that your team will need to be more creative and efficient with their marketing budget. Small businesses may also need to rely more on free or lower-cost marketing tactics, such as social media, PR, guest-blogging, referral and loyalty programmes.
- Marketing goals
The marketing goals of small businesses and corporate businesses may also differ. Small businesses are often focused on generating leads and sales, while corporate businesses may also be focused on such things as building brand awareness and customer loyalty. That doesn’t mean to say that these things aren’t important for a small business, it will always be cheaper and easier to gain more business from existing clients than generating new. However, a small business may need to focus more on short-term marketing goals especially at start-up. Do consider and establish your marketing goals before your marketing tactics.
- Marketing channels
Small businesses often rely on a mix of online and offline marketing channels. Online marketing channels may include social media marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), and email marketing. Offline marketing channels may include networking, print advertising, and direct mail. Corporate businesses, on the other hand, may have the resources to invest in a wider range of marketing channels as well, such as television advertising, radio and celebrity endorsements – though will rarely involve themselves in networking.
It is important to first identify your target market and understand where they hang out before considering the ways in which you’ll approach them.
Personalisation is open to all. However, small businesses have the advantage here because they may have a better understanding of their target audience and can build direct relationships with their customers. Small businesses may also be able to offer a more personalised customer service. A corporate may only get to meet its customers via a third party outlet or franchise.
As we have said, small business marketing and corporate marketing does differ in a number of ways. Small businesses generally need to be more strategic and creative with their marketing efforts due to their limited resources. They also need to focus on reaching a very specific target audience and building relationships with their customers.
Prior to setting up APM, Alison was predominantly client-side working for large corporate companies. Now agency-side, she says it’s been “fascinating sitting on both sides of the fence.”
Here are some tips for small businesses to compete:
- Focus on your niche: What makes your business unique? What problem do you solve for your customers? Once you know your niche, you can tailor your marketing messages to appeal to your target audience.
- Build relationships with your customers: Really get to know your customers, create personas for them and what they need. Offer personalised customer service and go the extra mile to ensure you stand out from your competitors.
- Understand the Marketing Mix: Take the time to understand the marketing mix and the relationship between product, price, promotion and place..
- Use social media: Social media is a great way to connect with your customers and build relationships with them. Use it to support your wider marketing efforts, rather than in isolation. You don’t need to use all of the social media channels available to you, choose one that you can do well and where your target audience ‘hangs out’. Bear in mind though, that it can be very time consuming and with all of the noise online nowadays you will more than likely need paid social to promote your products or services and drive traffic to your website.
- Invest in content marketing: Create high-quality content that is relevant to your business and your target audience. This content can help you attract new customers and build trust with your existing ones.
- Your website: You don’t need to spend the earth, nor go with the latest fad (fashions come and go), but do your research carefully. When planning your website content, think ‘fresh, relevant and unique’ and ensure your website is fully responsive.
- Track your results: It’s important to track your marketing results so you can see what’s working and what’s not. If it’s not working, and is therefore a waste of your money, you need to be able to identify this and drop it from your marketing plan. Whatever is working, do more of. This will help you improve your marketing strategy over time.
One final point. If you are pre-startup, do invest in your market resource. Far too many businesses invest in creating a business only to find their target audience is located elsewhere, or the market is already saturated. This comes back to your niche mentioned above, what is your USP (unique selling point) or your point of difference – and do people want or need it?
At Alison Page Marketing, we support small businesses with their marketing efforts by preparing realistic marketing strategies and plans. Our advice and support are based on how best to engage with your target customers, based on your resources and budget.