In today’s world, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the power of the big dogs. You know, the Apples and Amazons of the world. 2020 was undoubtedly a year that showed how difficult times can affect businesses in disproportionate ways, and it can be easy to fall into the trap of believing that no matter what, the big dogs win. But what advantages do small businesses have in the world of digital marketing? How can a small marketing budget possibly compete with the huge mega-companies?
You may not be competing with Amazon or Apple, but may feel overwhelmed by the might of your competition—well established on their thrones of power—in your specific market. This is especially true for new businesses, as they bravely venture into the fray. Here we are going to explore the strengths of the underdogs and show just how capable a small business can be in the world of digital marketing.
You are Flexible and Quick
As an entrepreneur, you likely have some experience working for someone else. Or you know someone who works for a larger company. I know I have, and you know what I often hear complaints about? Red. Tape.
Bigger companies often set rules, regulations, and build committees centered on decision making. It is obviously important to make sure that practices and processes have a clear way in which they are to be done, but in my experience, it goes too far. These things create a rigid “we do things this way, and that’s why we do it this way” kind of mentality. This plagues larger companies all over the place.
In fact, this kind of thinking is something that one of the big dogs, Google, actively tries to avoid. They have often been recognized as one of the most innovative companies, and part of that stems from the fact that they give 20% of their employees’ paid hours to whatever projects the employees want to work on. They organize people into smaller groups and encourage collaboration between teams. And why do they do this? Because they are trying to mimic the awesome power of the small business. As an entrepreneur, you know that you have to keep learning and be flexible to survive, and the same goes for your marketing strategy.
You, my friend, are the fearless entrepreneur! You took some idea that people called crazy and literally built a business out of it! Do you know just how much flexibility and quick thinking that takes? I’m sure you do because you did it. You learned along the way and that same strength can be applied to your digital marketing. You can change much more effectively, and much more quickly than those big wigs sipping tea and sending out a hundred confirmation emails before taking the next step.
You are Focused and Determined
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, and will likely hear it again after this that the big key is “finding your niche.” But what that means can sometimes be difficult to parse out. However, let’s take a look at an example.
Maria’s Guiltless Cookies, a Set Fire Creative partner, has got the focus down. First of all, we could look at it from the largest target audience that would be interested in their product. Those who want a cookie right now. But let’s be honest, that’s likely all of us. So we can “niche” it down a bit more: those who want a cookie right now, but don’t want to feel guilty about it. Alright so that’s probably also all of us, but then Maria’s Guiltless Cookies explains why you don’t have to feel guilty. Their cookies are vegan and gluten-free.
Now I know people who have celiac, and my best friend is vegan and goes out of his way (like drives hours sometimes) to try the newest and greatest vegan places. He has even told me that there are whole Facebook groups dedicated to sharing where people can find vegan meals and treats. Now does that sound like a marketing opportunity? Indeed it does. Whether your focus is area-specific, diet-specific, or audience-specific, you can find ways to reach those niches with determination and focus. While the big dogs are stuck trying to maintain, you can specialize, and go in like Ethan Hunt and do the impossible with a small expert team.
You are Creative
I mean, of course you are. You created a whole business. You are a rockstar! But why? You’ve heard it before, restrictions breed creativity. If you were forced to paint a painting, which is likely to be more creative? Starting with a blank canvas? Or starting with a big black smudge of paint in the middle of it? Which one would get those ideas flowing faster? I suspect that the smudge would lead to more creative paintings than the blank canvas. Not trying to knock your artistic skills, I’m sure some of you could create some masterpieces either way.
But part of what makes a painting so interesting is the size of the canvas. A larger canvas may cause you to paint something grand like a snow-covered mountain range. A smaller canvas may lead to more minute detail, like a happy little tree. Or perhaps in your creative approach, it would be exactly the opposite. The point is, the edges that we face are similar to the “limits” of a small business. It’s not how many resources you throw at a problem, it’s how they are used. You may only have two colors to paint with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a masterpiece! While the big businesses throw tons of money hoping that something sticks, you might host a Livestream, or build a community, or paint your walls something whacky, or what have you. This creativity is something that can lead to big gains in your marketing if it is channeled into your efforts.
You Have Empathy
This is the big one. And it sadly isn’t considered most of the time. You care. You aren’t in the same spot as the big players, where a sale is just a number at the bottom of some spreadsheet. You meet these people, you know your customers. You’ve talked to them, interacted with them, taken feedback, laughed with them, and you know them. That is no small thing. You are not just another business owner you are part of a community, and likely that is the reason that you keep doing what you do. Because you are meeting people’s needs, whatever they may be. That is the same for all small businesses and it is powerful.
I’m not suggesting that you take advantage of your community, or that you pretend to be something that you’re not. That kind of marketing doesn’t help anybody. What I am suggesting is that you have the ability to show the human side of your business. Through digital marketing, you can highlight your awesome employees, share their dreams and aspirations. You can share your story, and keep sharing how you have been changed by your experience as an entrepreneur. In Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” He says over and over again, “People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.” and it’s because of that, that you shouldn’t be afraid to share your experience, share your reason for doing what you do. And most of all share how grateful you are for your customers, and how grateful you are to be a part of their community and their experience. That kind of connection is something that the bigger players in your industry can never match.
Where to Start?
I know that it’s easy to highlight these advantages and easy to get pumped just thinking about it. I know I certainly am! But this can lead to a tricky next step, where to start? With everything a small business owner like yourself has to do, it can be so easy to let marketing slip in one way or another, whether that be missing social media posts, or just knowing which channels best fit your niche online. And that, my friends, is where Set Fire Creative can help.
Set Fire Creative is also a small business that has all the same strengths, mentalities, and dreams as you do. And what better way to succeed than together?
Not sure where to start? We can help you find your footing, with experts in the many realms of digital marketing. In love with crafting Instagram posts but hate figuring out keywords for an ad strategy? Perfect, we are happy to take the reins on the parts that drive you crazy and leave the parts you love in your hands, helping along the way.
As the little guys, the underdogs, the businesses that are small in size but not in heart, we’ve got to stick together. If you are excited about jumping into the world of digital marketing, we’d love to help. Call us today and together we will teach those big lumbering giants to never mess with the underdogs.
Robert is a digital marketer and friend to Set Fire Creative. He loves to expand his digital marketing knowledge by learning from others and sharing what he knows. His favorite pastime is playing board games with his wife and friends. He is currently working on many projects, such as starting a blog about developing good writing habits, producing stop-motion videos, and—his favorite project—writing a fantasy mystery novel.