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Start-Ups

How Can Small Business Compete with Big Brand Names?

By Townes Haas   |    May 26, 2016   |    9:59 AM

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, the idea of stealing clients away from a big brand can seem like an impossible task. Often times, trying to compete on price is out of the question. 

So can small business compete with the industry leaders and big brand names?

It’s not always easy. Small business owners can often feel bowled over by much larger companies, especially when it comes to competing for the market on a local level. How can a small local restaurant compete when a chain restaurant moves in across the street? How can a small boutique lure customers away from the convenience of purchasing an item online and having it delivered, sometimes only a day later?

But even in an age when convenience drives the consumer market, small businesses can take specific actions to win customers. In fact, the drive towards online shopping can work in a small business’s favor, especially if that business has a brick-and-mortar component. There are certain benefits to the in-person shopping experience that can be augmented by the use of technology but that online retailers can’t replicate. Here are some ways that small businesses can take advantage of brand diversification and win customers away from large multinational brands.

1. Specialize

The first place to make your small business stand out is by highlighting the products you sell or the services you provide. If you’re a local business, carry items that your customers can’t easily access somewhere else. By working with local artisans and designers, a shop can demonstrate not only that it’s truly part of the community but that it’s sourcing products locally. This not only offers consumers a product they can’t get elsewhere but also supports locals ranging from artists to bankers, pumping money back into the local economy.

2. Know Your Customers Personally

One of the biggest frustrations consumers experience is when they need help, there are often significant barriers to actually accessing that help. To give yourself an advantage over big brand names, focus on personalizing the shopping experience for each of your customers. Learn names and shopping preferences and put that information to use. If you see a product you know one of your customers will like, stock it and make sure the customer knows that you’re looking out for them. These small extra efforts help create lasting brand loyalty for your small business.

3. Partner Up

One significant way for small businesses to compete is to join forces to combat the big brand names. Two businesses located close to each other could team up for a promotion that pulls customers into both places at once.  A small boutique consignment shop in Boulder, Colorado sometimes runs sales when a nearby comic book store is having a big event. While their husbands are lined up for Free Comic Book Day, their spouses and partners are often next door at the boutique, so consumers are buying more products in both stores.

Small businesses are the heart of a local community. By creating a unique, personalized experience for your customers, you can successfully compete with big brand names by offering a shopping experience that a big brand name simply cannot provide. By coexisting with big businesses, small businesses can then realize that they fulfill a completely distinct need for their customers.