Many great ideas fail to translate into profitable business opportunities. Often the reason is the perceived lack of opportunity to compete with large, established brands that dominate a category.
However, real life facts shows that the small, independent, family owned business can successfully survive and thrive in mature categories.
In Fact small businesses are at the core of any economy. For example, according to this report, small businesses were the mighty engine that lead the US economic recovery.
If you have a great idea but are stuck on how to market your new small business, here are three essential strategies for success.
Be A Specialist
Probably the most common marketing error large companies make is stretching into various categories totally unrelated to what made their brand successful in the first place. Publicly traded companies in particular are heavy users of this strategy.
In order to market your new business successfully you have to adopt the opposite strategy: focus on one thing, and do it very well. The narrower the focus, the better the chances of getting uniquely positioned in your customers’ mind.
Let’s take a look at sports apparel, a category dominated by giants like Nike and Adidas.
Airwalk managed to build a strong and profitable brand by focusing on one sub-segment for which it become the brand of choice: board sports.
One quick Google search for “yoga apparel” will reveal the number one brand in the niche: Lululemon Athletica. A narrow focus, a premium-priced product and great community building programs were the key ingredients of its success.
Be Fast To Adapt
An adaptive company tweaks its business model with the changing times. This requires great vision and timely decision making.
A notorious weakness of big companies is the slow decision making process. As companies get bigger, new layers of management are added, which moves the approval process to smaller specialist teams that have to come to an agreement for the common good.
Today’s super competitive environment combined with fast and often unpredictable changes in consumer preference, makes timely decision-making a strong competitive advantage. That means new products can be brought to market faster, existing products can be quickly improved to respond to evolving needs, and new communication tools can quickly be established.
The key here is an in-depth, almost personal knowledge of your target audience. Once you notice an emerging trend be the first to embrace it and your brand will be a winner.
A small business is about “putting a face” to the person you’re dealing with: your employees, suppliers and customers. By default a small business is more “personal” in nature than a big corporation.
Make sure you build on this positive perception your customers have about your small business. Answer your clients’ questions personally. Be involved in your community. Support a cause your customers value.
But more importantly, have a compelling brand story.
One of the most important piece of information on a small business website is the copy on the About Us (or Our Story) page. And I will use the Canadian electronics retail space to illustrate this concept.
The Canadian electronics retail space is divided, as you would expect, between big box retailers (Future Shop and Best Buy) and smaller, independents such as Bay Bloor Radio.
These strategies to market a new small business will give you a head start and create the desired perceptions about your brand. But as Steve Jobs once said: “Everything is important-success is in the details.”
You also need a consistent and timely implementation plan, which requires discipline and know-how. Because “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory” (Sun Tzu, Chinese General).
Otherwise the big guys will catch up, and you will have to start all over again.