Small businesses often have a tough time marketing themselves as an attractive alternative to their larger competitors; consumers often assume large companies are more affordable and offer better quality (in service or products). This means that if you’re a company with just a handful of employees, you could lose out on lucrative opportunities by divulging your startup status.
The good news is that it’s possible to overcome this bias, but it does take some work to get through the unfortunate consumer perception that “bigger is better.” To help level the playing field, you can create the illusion of your business’ being larger than it is and position yourself among the “big guys.” Here are seven suggestions for ways you can look bigger and help your company grow in the process.
1. Build a robust website
Since a website is your virtual welcome mat, you want to it look appealing, no matter your company’s size. A well-rounded and fleshed out website can make a small company look like a corporate giant if done right. Since less than two-thirds (64%) of businesses don’t have websites, by building a site and making it stand out, you can gain a strong competitive edge. Include these considerations as you go:
- Avoid naming the business after yourself. Create a savvy name that sounds like a larger company (i.e. instead of John Smith Marketing, try John Smith & Associates).
- Build a targeted home page.
- Include an “About Us” section (and definitely use the word “us”)! List products or services and try to include some customer testimonials.
- Include an automated contact page; an email address is not enough. No matter how robust, a site will scream “small-time” without listing a phone number and a physical address — and, ideally, providing a form allowing users to email the company directly from the contact page.
- Keep your content up to date, or at least refresh it on a regular basis.
- Add some valuable free content, white papers, ebooks, etc. (If you can afford to offer it for free, you’re perceived as one of the heavy hitters!)
- Be sure your website is mobile-friendly.
- Avoid templates like a basic Wordpress or Blogger layout. Upgrade them so they look more professional.
By leveraging the power of the internet, you can position yourself on a more even playing field with the bigger companies. Be sure to use this knowledge to your advantage to disguise the size of your company.
2. Establish a logo.
All major companies have a logo, and so should you. A strong logo will strengthen your brand and make it memorable. Align yourself to attract the same type of recognition the heavyweights enjoy and reap the benefits.
3. Upgrade your internal email addresses and phone number.
Be sure to take the time to carefully create (and curate) your company’s email addresses. If you’ve been using a free email service, upgrade sooner than later. Email addresses from free services can look less than professional, leading potential customers to dismiss you. And an email address format such as firstname.lastname@example.org can look amateurish, whereas adding a last name can create a new — and much grander — company persona.
A run of the mill phone number can also make your company look small. Consider getting a vanity number through Grasshopper to not only make your company look bigger and more established, but to build a business identity that people won’t forget, to generate more leads (vanity numbers have been shown to drive more traffic), and to make your brand more recognizable.
4. Consider a new geographical location.
If you face many direct competitors in your location, why not consider moving to a new one? In the process, you could save money, then use those resources to better position yourself in a less-saturated market. As an example, Atlanta continues to boom, hosting CNN, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and numerous other Fortune 500 companies. It’s a big city, but the cost of living is affordable when compared to other major U.S. cities with comparable opportunities.
5. Invest in automation.
Running a business on a shoestring budget can be time-consuming. Look for cost-effective ways to free up your time so you can focus on your core competencies and grow your business. One way to do this is to invest in automation.
- Use artificial intelligence for data collection and analysis.
- Automate your bookkeeping and self-employment taxes. Go online to find resources that can help you plug in the correct numbers and calculate your tax amounts.
- Enhance HR and support services.
Automation does have some upfront costs if you want to keep it in-house, but if you go with a managed service provider and work out of the cloud, you can budget for your automated services with one singular monthly fee.
6. Cultivate a strong social media presence.
Marketing is no longer a one-way street. Today’s customers don’t want anyone preaching at them about what they want and need; they want a two-way street. Essentially, they want to be able to interact with your brand. The best way to do this is through social media. It’s convenient, fast, and straightforward.
- Cultivate lots of followers organically. Don’t go around spamming sites and following everyone, only to unfollow them later. Focus on sincere interaction and gaining genuine interest in your brand.
- Share lots of interesting news, tips, and other industry-related items your customers will appreciate. (It’s OK to throw out the occasional cute cat video, too!)
- Always make time to answer all inquiries, comments, and concerns.
- Position and present yourself as an industry expert and thought leader.
Before you go all out and invest your efforts in establishing a social media presence, choose your platforms carefully. As a small business owner, your time is always at a premium. Be sure to choose a handful of the most important (and appropriate for your brand) social media outlets and focus your efforts on those.
Empty or inactive profiles scattered across the web won’t be an asset to your company because those only shout out “Hey, I’m not big enough to maintain the resources needed to keep up with my social media accounts.”
7. Invest in high-quality promotional materials.
High-quality promotional materials look professional and can draw a discerning consumer’s eye — even if they might only be accustomed to having large companies fill their needs. Plan to attend trade shows, business expos, and other networking events. Be sure to have a good plan in place to generate the most value from your shiny new promotional materials.
You shouldn’t let your company’s small size prevent you from generating a buzz in your industry. Strategize ways to give yourself a more prominent presence and see where it leads you. If you’re already a trailblazer, inflating your size will keep you where you belong — actively competing and growing as a company.