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“How do small companies compete against larger ones?”  I sat down across from a defeated woman.  She had been struggling for 5 years to get her sewing company off the ground and running now.  What seemed like a great idea at first had now crumpled into a yarn ball of uncertainty.

It’s impossible to win against these bigger companies, Dan.  Customer service just isn’t enough anymore.  They bully you into the ground and keep an eye on you to make sure you stay there.

She felt as though he was doing the best she could.  She worked hard, 60+ hours per week.  She treated her customers right, traveled to see them…sometimes over 4 hours for meetings.  She offered promotions and discounts.  She did everything she could in the physical world following the adivce which DIY business gurus had given her.  I knew her personally and knew she gave it all she could and it pained me deeply 11111to see that 110% wasn’t enough against these larger companies which gave 80% on the best of days.

Let’s talk about fairness here, because I bet a lot of you are thinking the same thing.  If I have learned anything since graduating from my Masters Program its this: There is no such thing as fairness.  Fairness is a idea similar to equality that carries sympathetic connotations.  Let’s face it, smaller companies are underdogs in today’s world.  The truth of the matter is over 13 000 small businesses are newly formed every year, and there are 12 500 which also die in the same year.  New businesses are lucky to remain viable for more than 5 years in this world.  That being said, you have to start somewhere, and all of these larger companies certainly weren’t household names from day one.  So how do small companies compete against larger ones and survive?  There are many of the traditional ways covered by many other business gurus in the world (let’s call these physical strategies), but there has been a significant shift in the world within the past 10 years whereby more people are finding the best of the best online.  How many times have you gone to a large chain store, discovered a product that you like, then Googled that product to see where you can find it cheaper?  How many of those times, did you find the name of a company that you had never heard of and found your product offered at a much lower price than that of the big guys?  You may have also been so excited that you told others of your find.  This process is becoming more and more common, and it is also only one of the many ways that the “digital playing field” has become a lot more even.

If we go back to our scenario, the main issue there was a lack of an online presence.  She wasn’t even on the digital playing field, let alone trying to play on it.  The digital world is a place where smaller companies can go toe to toe with the bigger ones and win!

So let’s talk about strategies for how your company can compete with larger companies using these digital strategies.

 

Get a Website

This may not be the first thing to come to mind and it is arguable that perhaps being on social media should take precedence here, but let me explain.

Think of the website as your company address, but in the digital world.  It is a place where you introduce your product, where you sell your product, and inform people how to contact you.  It is also the place where people will go should they want to see what you are all about.  A website is really no different.  It can show all of this information and more.

More and more people are taking to Google long before visiting any physical store or location.  Before I go to Walmart or Best Buy or the Grocery Store, I first take a look at their inventory then peek at their hours to determine if a trip is warranted.

While contemplating developing a website, take a look our affordable web design and development services.

 

Be Googlable

Google is the new yellow pages of the digital world.  It holds all the addresses and indexes that are relevant to anyone asking it a question.  Just because you have a website, there’s no guarantee that people will find you.  Similar to your company’s physical address, just because you build it, does not simply mean “they will come”.  It takes marketing.  It takes strategy.  It takes hard work.

When a search is requested with Google, a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is generated.  On this page is what Google believes to be the most relevant content for you.  If you search “Sewing Companies in Tokyo” it will do it’s absolute best to make sure you are getting results that are both relevant to sewing AND in Tokyo.  It would be a far less utilized tool if it always gave you results about Toy Stores in London England.  We won’t get into how Google decides what to show, but you should be aware that there are ways to optimize your content.  This process is termed Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  We highly recommend working with someone who knows what they are doing when it comes to SEO. You can do it right and reap the rewards or, if you do it incorrectly, you could get booted off Google, essentially committing SEO suicide.  Learn more about SEO and bad vs. good strategies.

 

Be On Social Media

Now you may have already done this and you may be ready to move onto the next section, but just take a read for 30 more seconds.  It isn’t enough anymore to simply have a Facebook Profile, or a Twitter account.  You can do severe damage to your brand or you can elevate your brand to new heights depending on how to handle your social media accounts.  Make sure you interact with people, engage people, and work to create the perception that you are physically ON social media.  Too many companies create social media accounts (60% of all businesses) and then abandon them for long periods at a time (< 10% actually maintain their accounts).  The optimal post or content publishing frequency is 3x/week.  Though this is debatable, don’t focus on the number; focus on consistency and frequency.  If you only have time to post 1x/week, make sure you post 1x/week and make sure the content is relevant.  Alternatively, you can hire other people to create and post content for you.

 

Provide Excellent Customer Service

If you aren’t already doing this, and you haven’t already scared off too many people with your questionable service, DO IT NOW.  Smaller businesses are at a massive advantage over the bigger companies in several ways.  First of all, you do not have to consult with a large team in order to reach an agreement.  You can take it upon yourself to “adjust on the fly”, though we do recommend sticking to a core set of values and ensure your brand has a certain “persona”.  Most people (52%) expect a reply to an email within the first 12-24 hours, but we recommend a response of some sort even before this.  You do not have to answer the email in completion, but make sure the person on the other end feels you’re attentive, diligent and that his/her business is important to you.  Though larger companies may have more people on standby waiting to answer emails or phone calls, often times these people have specific prepared scrip to follow and are often unable to provide the exact, quality answer their customer requires.

A Tale About Customer Service From a Micro-Enterprise

 

Though there are obviously countess other potential and necessary strategies for small businesses to compete against larger ones, however these are some of the most relevant activities pertaining to the digital playing field and they’re in your control.

 

Users of this site are fully responsible for any consequences resulting from their use of the Site. The information on the Site is provided for educational or information purposes only; it is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, whether medical, legal, or otherwise.

 

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About Dan Pietens

Dan is the President and Lead Developer of Innervation Technology and Design. He creates beautiful websites and believes in a world where small companies can survive and thrive through the help of affordable web services.