How Small Businesses Can Remain Competitive Against Big Competitors

4 Steps To Follow to Be at the Top of Your Category

Running a small business comes with many challenges, and staying competitive against corporations is always near the top of the list. It’s not as tricky as it may sound, though. Staying competitive just requires tenacity and a few smart marketing techniques.

We’re going to cover everything from relationships to SEO, all of which offer unique benefits for your company.


Build Relationships

While some employees value building relationships with regulars regardless of the company’s size, corporations typically don’t have the ability to connect with every community they’re in.

You, though? You’re a part of the community. You live down the street, you see them at the grocery store… you know them. Build upon those commonalities by remembering names, reaching out for major life events, and supporting their causes.

This may sound like it’s taking advantage of the relationship, but as long as you’re building these relationships to truly get to know them and support them, it’s not. If you’re getting to know them simply to sell them, then it would be taking advantage. As with networking, always offer support before asking for anything in return.


Maximize Your Adaptability

As a small business owner, you have a very specific advantage that corporations don’t. You can adapt quickly to changing customer needs and desires. Instead of requiring multiple levels of approvals, you have an opportunity to get ahead of your competition.

Consider where your niche is lacking, and be sure to ask your customers. It could be an additional service you could implement in a few weeks, or it could be a product that correlates with your current offerings.

The faster you adapt, the more likely you’ll be to succeed over your larger competitors with their increased levels of bureaucratic approvals. Pay attention to what people are saying, and be ready to work fast.


Find Your Niche, and Stay There

Niches are where small businesses thrive. Corporations go for where the most money can be made, which typically means ignoring certain niches that could be very profitable for you, the small business owner. Every industry has multiple niches, and this is your opportunity to outperform your larger competitors.

Your niche is your specialty within the industry. Consider what your audience (local or online) needs, and see where that intersects with your expertise. Instead of opening a bakery offering pastries and bread while your true specialty is bread made with alternative flours, open an allergen-friendly bakery.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t adapt. Even within your niche, customers’ needs and wants will evolve. Technology will improve. By focusing on how your customers are evolving and technology’s ever-changing needs, you can solidify your niche while continuing to serve your community.


Localize Your Marketing Early & Often

Marketing localization is just that: creating a marketing plan focused on your local area. This recommendation is primarily for small businesses serving their local area, compared to others who ship their products across the country and/or world. Corporations have a tricky time truly localizing their approach because they have to focus on multiple areas.

For you, localization is implemented primarily on your website and through external resources like social media and website directories.

Your own website is the perfect place to include your service areas and phone number. Place it on your contact page, in your footer, and other areas as needed to support search engine optimization. SEO is a complex process but including your city name in strategic areas is a good place to start. A marketing agency focused on small businesses can help you maximize your website using localized SEO as well.

Social media supports localization through location tags and hashtags, as well as including your address on your Facebook Business Page and Instagram Business Profile. Include a location within your service area with every Instagram post, as well as city-related hashtags to help people discover your content.

Website directories offer listing services and many also offer reviews. There are industry-specific directories like and location-based directories like Yelp. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but these are generally an excellent way to grow your local presence without investing in a significant SEO strategy.

You Don’t Have to Grow Your Company Alone

Your small business doesn’t have to live in a competitor’s shadow. With these marketing updates like focusing on your niche and building relationships, you can cut away at a corporation’s competitive advantage by focusing on what you do best: supporting your community. For a friendly, localized approach to marketing yourself against the competition, give us a call at (415) 640-8009. (See what we did there?)

Marc Apple

Marc Apple

Digital Strategist

I like inbound marketing strategy, creative design, website development, analytics, and organic and paid search. That's what I write about.