There are many ways that big businesses have advantages over smaller ones. Larger companies often have established clientele that they can trust to be invested in their next project, larger capital to draw on, and a more extensive reputation.
When it comes to marketing, especially social media, startups have several advantages over larger companies. Are you using these advantages to their fullest potential?
When startups interact with their customers, they have the benefit of being able to pay attention to each and every customer, address every concern that customers bring to the table (within reason). While larger companies need to pick and choose how they respond to their responses or connections on social media, smaller companies can respond more freely. Note: This doesn't mean you don't need to be just as professional – if not more professional – than large companies; it's just that you are probably getting fewer mentions, and can therefore respond more quickly and more in depth.
To make this increased intimacy work for you:
- Treat your customers like you'd like to be treated. Respond to any concerns that they bring up politely and forthrightly. If you're in the wrong, say so, and fix it.
- Thank your customers for reaching out. Never act like their contact is an imposition, or like you have better things to do than talk to them.
- Accept questions and address product issues over social media. Your customers will be more likely to contact you, which gives you valuable feedback about how products are being used and what issues are coming up.
Big businesses often struggle when it comes to being flexible. As staffing increases, locations double, and the annual income rises, it's harder to turn the cumbersome machinery of corporations in order to react to changes in the market. Smaller businesses often have a greater ability to tweak their formula and adjust their market position to capture new business and find new venues.
How do you make sure your business is getting maximum benefit from its flexibility?
- Take advantage of new tech. With companies like Oxagile, even if you don't have tech background yourself, you always have the ability to adapt to new technologies that appear on the market. Dmitry Karpovich, Oxagile CEO, says that “many businesses benefit from the ability to have a small forum or social media network where product fans can communicate.”
- Don't commit until you know something is successful. When a large company tries out a new social media platform or considers a redesign of a brochure, they need to know that it will be successful before they even begin. With a smaller company, you have the luxury of trying several different avenues and seeing what works. Make smaller investments until you know you're on the right track.
Startups have the benefit of serving a very particular product to a very particular customer. Because of this, they can really focus on getting things exactly right for that particular customer. When companies expand, they often need to strengthen the company's public image and water down their product or message in order to appeal to a broader group of customers. This means choices like advertising in more locations, having more “ideal customers” or less targeted ideal customers, so that your message is approachable to a wider range of people, and adding products to your business, even if they don't fit the laser focus of your original market.
By staying small, companies can continue to build on that narrow focus. This gives them benefits like:
- Few, if any, regional competitors, depending on the exact service offered. No one else does it quite like you.
- Smaller advertising costs. You know exactly where your ideal customer is searching for their next product, and you target your ads and freebies where they will see them. You don't need to cast a wide net; you know exactly what you're looking for.
Sure, there are benefits to being a big business, but there are also benefits for staying small and careful. Build on what you do very well, and don't rush the process. The best companies are those that grow slowly and carefully, making the right choices when they still have the ability to do it.