Allow me to open this post by stating the obvious: For small to mid-sized businesses, competing with large companies (and large marketing budgets) can be tough. You may have the world’s finest products, but when Amazon is known for shipping them faster and Walmart is known for stocking more of them at a lower price, it’s hard to gain even a modicum of attention—much less a competitive share of the marketplace.
So, should you just concede to companies with larger marketing budgets?
Obviously not! Instead of staying idle while corporate Goliaths flood every platform with their own messaging, search out your own audience (your buyer persona) and make your case directly to them. All you need are a few strategies like the ones below that play to your strengths and assets.
Gauge Your Battleground
If you’re running a small business, the larger companies aren’t always your competition, even if they offer the same type of product. Companies with limitless marketing budgets can permeate more sectors with advertising, buy their way to better search results, and likely meet demand at a much quicker pace.
Instead of seeing yourself as an underdog who’s about to be pancaked by a big-budget marketing giant, become a nimble opponent who can evade those slow-swinging fists and leverage your strengths against their weak spots.
In other words, recognize your potential to be better and smarter in ways those companies can't, regardless of marketing budgets. You can be:
- More adaptive to change
- More specialized
- Quicker to account for trends and customer needs
- More responsive to pain points and customer needs
... and any number of other ways, all of which allow you to resonate better with audiences than your larger competitors.
Let the Fight Come to You
Instead of trying to impact customers through targeted ads (many of which fall victim to banner blindness), smart marketers leverage their own content and expertise by bringing customers to them.
Through original and curated content, company blogs and social media pages are now key providers of brand messaging and consumer education, helping countless small companies establish thought leadership and consumer trust. Whether it’s through a detailed how-to post or a thoughtful Twitter dialogue, smaller companies regularly build customer relationships starting at the initial point of contact.
The key objective for content is to provide high-value information to your audiences, whether they find it though Twitter or a Google search. By positioning your organization as a thought leader in your industry, your audience will think of you first when they're ready to make a purchasing decision.
Before long, your seemingly innocuous content can turn you into a subject matter expert, trusted authority, or even a YouTube presence—all because you listen to your audience and respond with information they can use. This is exposure and credibility that even the most inflated marketing budget can’t buy ready-made.
Most people will find your content first through your blog. As such, it needs to be updated regularly with original or curated material, which can be daunting for a marketer balancing a wealth of other projects.
But content doesn’t always have to be “new” to be relevant—it just has to be important to your audience. Consider repackaging your best blog posts in a guide or email series to further extend the reach of your content, and add links to your newer content in your older blog posts to give your customers even more value.
Plan Your Strategy Well in Advance
There's no need to feel alone, even if hindered by marketing budget restraints. Thankfully, marketing automation software platforms exist (often inexpensively, I might add), to help you plan, schedule, distribute and monitor your content easily and quickly. It allows for more meaningful planning, and more accurate metrics, and better results, letting you know exactly which topics resonate most with your audiences.
Marketing automation also helps you to manage the quality of your leads. For every activity a visitor performs on your site (e.g. page visit, download, share, site search, form completion), a score is adjusted based on the parameters you’ve established. Likewise, most automated blogging software these days is built around improving SEO, helping you achieve higher search engine rankings for your pages faster than you could from simply monitoring your website.
Inbound marketing strategies and automation platforms have given smaller companies the ability to do more with less by addressing customer needs and pain points through smart, strategic marketing—much of which costs little, if anything at all.
It may not always be exciting, but it generates ROI, regardless of whether your budget is a little more like David than Goliath.