Some days it feels hard to compete with the loss leaders big box stores employ, the operating hours they’re able to keep, the programs, their ad budget, their marketing…the list goes on. But small businesses do have an advantage box stores don’t and it’s one that’s rarely used.
Small businesses have a community connection. Shopping local is very vogue right now. If a small business employs digital media to increase that local following, they can compete with businesses whose total ad budgets alone dwarf the small business’ annual revenue. Small businesses can easily build a tribe on digital media and all it takes is time. Here’s why many big businesses can’t compete with smaller ones on social media.
Big Marketing Has Many Levels
Yes, big businesses can employ 15 social media gurus in one geographic area, while small businesses are often stuck posting between customers, but with big operations come big sign-offs. There are often rules, protocols, and procedures that need to be adhered to in a large organization. Marketing initiatives come from headquarters and issues are handled by them as well, often causing some delay in response. The content schedule is planned long in advance with big corporations and they are less agile.
Large corporate marketing teams also have tone documents and posting protocols that must be adhered to. This means they have a consistent brand but often lack the local flavor that’s imbued in small business social media.
Corporate Marketing Happens Elsewhere
Often social media opps are run out of locations away from your town’s branch store. This means the team which is posting amazing content will miss out on the finer points of what it’s like to live in your area. If you’re a small business using social media, you’ll want to capitalize on this point. Use your time on social media capturing the uniqueness of your town and its residents. It’s a great way to shine and big business simply can’t compete.
They Operate on What Works for All of Their Stores
If you live in the south, you might’ve noticed that big national box stores put things on clearance at the end of summer just like they do up north, even if your area stays warm for another five months. Box stores operate from a one-size-fits-all-stores attitude when it comes to inventory. They have to in order to manage their operations. Local stores don’t have to operate that way. If a southern beach store wants to keep bikinis on its racks year long, it’s not only possible, it’s probably a good idea.
You can operate your digital media the same way. Talking to people about the things that are going on in your community and employing content marketing on topics (even if they’re past season) is possible, and easy, for a local business.
Their Content Marketers are not Experts in Local Information
Many big businesses have adopted content marketing. They have the money and resources to do it very effectively but just like their inventory selection has to be based on nationwide timelines so does their social media. I have yet to see a box store employ different social media in one area than another (unless we’re talking franchises). Box stores are going to provide a lot of content that will be effective for most of their customers. If they targeted content geographically, they’d run the risk of spreading themselves too thin and watering down their ROI.
Local business owners can provide content on things happening to them now. While a box store could write an article about grouper fishing in the gulf, a local store could speak to the current conditions in a much more authoritative way. They’re able to write about their experience grouper fishing yesterday or this morning.
Small businesses have multiple advantages over big business when it comes to social media. They can build very tight relationships with their neighbors through publishing much more targeted, effective content and allowing their personalities to show through on social media. The only thing left, is to find the time to do so.
But if you know you have an advantage over the competition, shouldn’t you be using it?
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.