When it comes to small businesses and big businesses, the challenges and everyday operations vary dramatically. This applies to their marketing too. While both will require an effective marketing strategy and will follow a similar marketing process, the similarities stop there. That’s because of differences in budgets, staffing, time scales, creative approaches, size of the market, audience responsiveness, and communication techniques.
The Key Differences
Where Coca Cola may be able to afford to send hundreds of branded trucks up and down the country at Christmas, staffed with a team wearing promotional merchandise to meet and greet with customers, backed by a full-scale television promo advertisement, this isn’t so achievable for the everyday business.
There’s a lot you can achieve with big budgets, although that’s not to say they’re mission critical. Many successful campaigns have gone viral despite being very simple and cost-effective. It’s simply about thinking creatively and making the most of what you do have to hand. Every decision you make should be scaled to the size of your business and budget.
For both business sizes, the marketing process is the same. It involves a circular motion from customer, product and competitive research to product development, pricing to labels and packaging, distribution to advertising, promotions and public relations, sales to customer service and so forth.
The Right People for The Right Job
It’s also important to consider that small businesses won’t necessarily have highly skilled (and expensive) marketing directors and managers, a permanent team of social media executives, and so forth. You have to be gentle with yourself and appreciate that you can only do so much with a smaller team. Don’t beat yourself up because you can’t compete with the big brands. Your business will still be okay. Many smaller businesses hire freelancers to fill in the gaps, which can be more cost effective as you can just use them as and where required.
As time goes on and your business grows, you can then consider bringing someone on full-time, as long as the return-on-investment makes it a suitable decision. While resources are stretched though, it’s best to adopt the approach of ‘quality over quantity’. Often it is the business owner trying to juggle the marketing with everything else in a small business. Rather than trying to do everything and do it badly, simply find what is most important and successful in communicating with your audience and try to do that well, with focus, and consistency.
Unlike big businesses, small businesses won’t be able to spend as much money or time focussing solely on brand recognition campaigns. Instead, the attention will be much more on specific products or promotional offers. These will be important as every piece of marketing needs to create immediate, measurable action. However, they will help to double up as brand awareness campaigns too.
Smaller businesses need to work much harder to ensure their marketing inspires purchases, as the marketing costs need to be accounted for and a ROI visible. It is a balancing act – creating clear and effective communications on budget, articulating a brand identity, while also inspiring a customer to enquire, generate leads and prompt a sale. That all being said, the results can be just as fruitful. With successful marketing, the sales will grow, as will the company, and the marketing budget and creative potential can expand too.