There are about 28.8 million small businesses in the United States alone, but we live in a global economy where people can order nearly anything they want online and have it delivered to their doorstep. No matter what industry you’re in, you likely have a few competitors in your neck of the woods. If the market is already saturated, one of the ways you can grow is to outshine those competitors and drive their business to yours.
If you want to compete against larger competitors, you need to work even harder to overcome their massive marketing budgets and name recognition. Fortunately, there are many different ways you can stand out and show just how stellar your own small business is.
1. Narrow Your Focus
You likely already have a niche market in mind, but how narrow is your audience? At first, it might seem like a crazy idea to limit your customer base, but small companies have limited resources. By really honing in on a particular market segment, they can dominate in that sector and get some word-of-mouth advertising going.
Red Bull is a great example of a company that achieved this. There are so many different beverages on the market, particularly in the energy drink and sports drink sectors. Its sales were flat, so it took a step back and tried to figure out why. One problem was that the company was trying to market to everyone. So people couldn’t decide if they were an energy drink or a sports drink.
Red Bull honed in on college students and promoted its beverage as an energy drink. It was to get those students through days where they needed an energy boost. Sales took off. Today, Red Bull has 46 percent of the U.S. market, and even more in Canada. If you are a startup and have competitors — or even if you’ve been in business for a while — take the time to figure out what market sector would be most receptive to what you have to offer.
2. Be Extra
If you really want to set yourself apart, you have to deliver way more than you promise. For example, if you own a skincare company and a new customer orders facial cleanser, throw in a toner and some samples for free.
In addition to delivering more than you promised, you should also follow up. Many companies fail in this area, particularly your larger competitors who might be overwhelmed with customers. However, following up doesn’t have to take a lot of your time. Much of it can be automated with just the first name and item ordered plugged in to personalize the letter.
3. Build Your Social Media Following
Have you ever noticed how large brands seem to have a big social media following? You can add some credibility to your small business by focusing on growing your social media following, but be careful not to use schemes just to add numbers. You need to be strategic in your social media growth strategies. Start by figuring out where your target audience is and then offer content that will draw them to your business page.
You can also run contests and boost posts to draw more visitors and gain followers to your social media pages. Large companies might hire a social media specialist to handle this work, but that likely isn’t in your budget if your business is still small. Instead, you can use tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule posts ahead and at key moments during the day. This is the next best thing to hiring a social media manager.
4. Set SMART Goals for the Year
Your goals should be SMART: simple and achievable. Each year, take the time to write out your long-term and short-term goals. Break each goal down into smaller steps that can be easily achieved. Share those goals with your employees.
Large companies have regular meetings with their workers. Arrange short weekly or daily meetings, such as a scrum meeting. Everyone will know what the goals are for that day or week and can share any successes and challenges. The key to this type of meeting is to keep it short and to the point.
Although there are many different things you can focus on to grow your small business and get ahead of even the stiffest competition. Try to focus on these four things that will help you see the most growth possible in the shortest period of time. Outshining your competition is a matter of loving what you do. Be determined to be the best at it. And think about the needs and wants of your customer base. If you do those things, your customers will recognize it and you’ll find you have a loyal customer base that can’t be shaken.