David & Goliath.
The American colonies vs. the British Empire.
Rocky vs. Apollo.
If history (and the Rocky series) have anything to teach us, it’s that underdogs always have a fighting chance.
The same is true today, when your limited small business budget feels more David than Goliath. But even if you’re armed with a lowly sling of a marketing budget, your wits and the right tactics can more than make up for the limited stature of your small business. In other words, you don’t need a corporation’s giant budget in order to market like one.
Tactic #1: With Advertising Dollars, Pick Your Battles
You might not be able to afford a spot in the Superbowl — or even a TV spot on your average weekday night — but if you pick your battles, you can find other ways to compete for lots of views.
The most obvious tactic is in search engine and social media advertising. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising gives you a chance to face off with the big corporations. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to out-bid them in the PPC market.
Instead, you can pick your battles with a better quality score.
Tactic #2: Access the Same Media by Being More Interesting Than the Big Guys
True: just about everyone knows how to publish a press release by now. You learn the proper format at PRWeb and submit it, hoping to generate quick buzz.
The problem is that… everyone knows how to publish a press release by now.
Separating yourself from the crowd means not only having a different story to tell, but knowing which stories reporters are interested in telling and their audiences are interested in hearing.
Tactic #3: Practice Giving Through the Art of Content Marketing
Here’s one area where the big guys don’t have a monopoly: usefulness. If you can be useful to your potential customers, nothing else really matters.
So how does this apply to content marketing? Simple: stop thinking of your blog as something that needs mere updating on a weekly basis.
Instead, start thinking of your blog as a way to give your readers the invaluable resources for which they’re searching.
Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey emphasizes this point with entrepreneurs: the heart of capitalism, he argues, is service. Once you stop thinking of blogs as a necessary evil and start thinking of them as opportunities to give something useful to others, you’ll begin to attract more viewers.
Tactic #4: Make Yourself Available Like a Big Business
If you only handle direct sales through your website, you’re missing out.
Big corporations know that they have to get their product in front of as many faces as possible. There’s no reason you can’t do the same.
These days, if you sell an online product, many people will be surprised if you don’t already sell through big online retailers like Amazon. They may even wonder what it is you’re trying to pull.
It’s better to communicate that your business belongs in competition with the big guys over at the major retailers. Not only will you open yourself up to a new market, but the people reaching out to you directly will, oddly, trust you even more.
Tactic #5: Invest in Customer Relationship Management
If CRM sounds like a corporate buzzword to you, chances are you haven’t fully embraced your customer yet. The better you manage your relationship with a customer, the more likely they are to recommend you, go to bat for you, even buy from you again.
CRM doesn’t require a massive team checking up on your customers, either. Today’s CRM tools will automate the process for you while keeping your customers engaged.
Tactic #6: A/B Test with the Best of ‘Em
A big company has lots of money to throw around on research, development, and focus groups.
But that’s no reason you can’t have the valuable feedback your marketing tactics deserve when you A/B test all of your materials.
A/B testing can be as simple or intricate as you want — from trying out different headlines on Google AdWords to running month-long tests on which landing page is making the most sales. The next time you pledge an advertising dollar, don’t do it in the hope that someone will click or call. Instead, do your best to measure it.
Most online marketing platforms will give you the ability to test two ads against each other. But even if they don’t, you can create your own A/B tests by running near-duplicate advertisements and testing the individual elements that work best.
Create Your Own Marketing Department
Make marketing your focus and you’d be amazed at how much you can replicate — or even beat — the success of big corporations. You don’t need your own department to do this. Employ the marketing tactics that leverage your unique strengths and opportunities as a small business. You’ll find a strategy that hits.
How have you outcompeted the big players in your industry? Share with us.