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Don’t Copy Big Business If You’re A Small Business

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Written by   6
2 months ago

Modelling big business isn’t a good thing if you’re a small business. Big businesses have a different agenda. Big businesses have different economics aka they operate with “play money”.

One of the biggest mistakes I see small businesses make is copying what seems to be successful. They look at how big brands are advertising and then they try to copy that. They look at how big companies are posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Co. and they are desperately trying to model that very same behavior.

I’m here to tell you that you’re copycatting the wrong stuff.

Please understand that big businesses operate differently. For one, they need to meet shareholder expectations. You have boards, presidents, vice-presidents and CEOs, and all of them need to play their role in the game. Sometimes it takes ages until decisions are made and implemented across the entire ecosystem. On top of that, big businesses can more or less afford to target anyone with a pulse and a wallet (as Dan Kennedy says; giving credit where credit is due).

If you’re a small business owner, you really don’t need to go down that path unless of course you don’t care about wasting your precious time, money and other resources.

Small Business Challenges

Here are three common marketing mistakes for small business owners to avoid at all cost:

1. My perfect prospect is anyone with a pulse and wallet.

Big businesses have different economics. They can pour $2 million into advertising hoping to reach as many humans as possible and if the campaign fails, well… than they pull another $2 million from their marketing budget and try something else.

You can’t afford to do that. The combination ignorance and desperation is the worst possible. Therefore you need to think through the entire profile of your perfect prospect.

WHO is a great fit and who’s not?

What motivates your ideal client? What are his / her desires, interests and frustrations? How do they buy? What does your ideal client think about himself/ herself?

Nail your audience.

And remember: broad messages aren’t effective and practical at small business level.

2. Offline is better than online (or vice versa).

There is no good or bad distribution channel just like there’s no such thing as good or bad media. It’s all situational.

One media is better than no media. Two marketing channels are better than one. Actually, you need to deploy as many media and marketing channels as you can get results from.

Big businesses are all over the place. You don’t need to copy that strategy either. Just make sure, you’re in the right place(s).

If trade fairs are your preferred offline method and you get great results from that, excellent; stick to that. If your ideal clients like to hang out on LinkedIn, that’s where you have to be too. If you can reach out to more prospects via Facebook, consider running some highly targeted ads.

There is stability in diversity. Never underestimate the impact of multi-media integration and cross-channel marketing at a small business level.

3. Pricing is the key ingredient of my business success.

How do you know a novice sales person from a pro? The novice plays only one card: price.

Can you beat Amazon or Walmart when it comes to price? No?

Well than, what’s the point in being one of the cheapest, if you can’t be THE cheapest?!

Rather than playing a game you’re never going to win, why not play one that you can most certainly win?

Be a preferred choice.

There are a boat load of people who prefer to do business with smaller companies because

  • they’re more flexible,

  • they’re local ===> allowing them to better cater to local preferences and needs,or

  • they can provide a more personalized service and customer experience.

Wrapping It Up

Know everything you can about your competitors but don’t copy them. Ask yourself how much you can afford to spend to acquire a customer and based on that, work yourself backwards to discover how much you can actually spend on a prospect.

Establish marketing systems. A lot of small businesses systematize their operations but hardly anyone applies the same thinking to marketing. Move away from random acts of marketing and focus on building systems and marketing assets.

Someone’s sustainability in business has to do with systems.

What marketing strategies can you implement today to increase the impact of your small business?

Originally published on my blog at

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Written by   6
2 months ago
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This is something so many small business operators I talk to dismiss, but you are absolutely right to point out the importance of making the distinction. Bottom line, I suppose, is that big companies have much deeper pockets, access to more resources, and can afford to take certain risks that small businesses cannot.

Some great information here.

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