Stepping up to the plate and starting a small business can be intimidating, especially when you’re facing larger companies with more money and staff. Knock your “big league” competitors out of the park with these three tips for ensuring your small business is an industry all-star.
1. Be an information hub.
Between social networks and search engines, there is a lot of information available on the Internet. Stand out as a small business and be a one-stop shop for news and knowledge relevant to your industry. To push your company to the major leagues of providing information, create a blog with tips for success, include news articles and links in tweets, and create topic pages or forums on your website.
Tip: Don’t ignore the importance of offline information. Speak at industry conferences or host quarterly workshops for other small business owners.
2. Focus on the community.
Make your company a “root, root, root for the home team” small business by engaging with the local community. People relate to those with similar qualities, so take down the business-branding barrier and participate in events around town. Whether you provide business advice or pro bono work for a local non-profit, host a community cookout or have employees participate in an annual 5K run, adding a face and personality will make your small business friendly and relatable. When you’re opting for community-facing events, ask your staff to sport a company shirt. It’s a great conversation starter and a solid branding opportunity.
Tip: Think your company or product doesn’t relate to members of the community? Word of mouth and peer recommendations are the most powerful forms of marketing, so odds are someone in town knows someone who knows someone who would want your product.
3. Excel at customer service.
How many times have you called a company number, only to hear, “For a service representative, please press five”? And, after hitting five (and seven other numbers) you end up back at the main menu? Don’t fall into this customer service cop-out. Every call, comment and complaint is an opportunity for you to make a connection and build loyalty. Be proactive about customer service and follow up with people who bought your product or service.
Tip: Don’t rely on one phone number—allow customers to talk with you in multiple ways. Create an online chat function and encourage followers to tweet questions to your Twitter account.
Focus on providing relevant information, creating a community connection, and genuinely caring about customer satisfaction and watch your efforts reflect in ROI.
Does your small business have a unique way to beat “big league” competitors? Comment below and tell us how!