How your small business can “steal” customers from big brands

Your Business, June/July 2017 issue

By Amantle Mokubung

I should probably put out a disclaimer before I get into the details and ask that you note that this isn’t some shady business growth guide, I’m simply sharing tactics for you to consider implementing when mapping your plan for growth – stuff that big brands sometimes overlook when servicing their targeted market. At times, big organisations aren’t able to timeously respond to their market’s latest needs and trends because of the way in which their businesses have been set up. As a small business owner, you could explore the gap between customer expectations and the realities of the industry in which you operate. Monitor it closely, find pockets of opportunities, pick one or a few, focus and ride on it.


The game has long changed; your business operates in the age of digital – a space that has raised the bar when it comes to consumer expectations. Consumers want to easily access the information that they require. When they find it, the information must be concise, easy to understand and doing business with you is expected to not feel like pulling teeth. Oftentimes, whichever brand is clear on their messaging, is easy to reach and is set up in a way that makes it easy for individuals and B2B clients to do business with, gets the deal. Brand loyalty has become difficult to build; convenience and brand experience are key. Make it easy for your prospects to wish to commit to doing business with you. Keep your content and visual messaging simple, crystal clear and aesthetically appealing. Apply this to your website, marketing collateral, online forms and the like – simplify. Go even further. How easy is it for prospective service providers to do business with you? Are there any unnecessary red tapes that you could do away with? Revisit your processes and simplify.


Time is of the essence

Small business owners are often guilty of taking days on end to respond to enquiries or to deliver on time. Remember that bad word of mouth spreads quicker that a trending topic on Twitter moves to Facebook, it’s definitely not what your business requires. Apart from this, your prospects’ access to your competitors is always a click away. You are hardly ever their only option. Respond to enquiries and service your clients timeously. Even when you aren’t able to offer the services required, acknowledge the enquiry, and never leave prospects hanging. Stick to the lead times that you have agreed upon with your client, regardless of the size of their order or deal. Referrals for new business could come from anywhere.

Creatively expand part of a big brand’s service offering and specialise

My partner and I recently spent just over a week in Cape Town. Having chosen to book accommodation in Sea Point for the duration of our stay, the popular ice-cream sandwich spot; Crumbs & Cream was on the cards, naturally. Looking back on our experience, I have come to realise that the Crumbs & Cream menu is simply a part of the popular ice-cream treats and famous waffle house’s menu on steroids. Crumbs & Cream chose part of the big gun’s menu, added all the frills needed to pimp it up and created a full experience around it by allowing ice-cream lovers to co-create their ice-cream sammie and add a personal touch to it. Without imitating, you could possibly consider the same approach in your chosen industry.


They can’t be everywhere. You can.

The more established a company; the more defined its brand strategy and experience. The types of platforms that the company makes use of must always complement the brand, which means that big brands can’t always be everywhere. In the early stages of growing your business, take advantage of the fact that you can use almost every marketing platform available to you to promote your business – before you craft your brand strategy, keep in mind
that nothing prevents you from casting the net a bit further than big brands.


Craft your experience based on what your customers value the most

Don’t ignore the feedback that your clients give (and that of big brands – disgruntled customers are quick to take it to the streets of Twitter). Knowing and understanding what consumers want is gold! Find out why they seek out your services, what they value the most and why the keep coming back. Use the details to build incomparable customer experience. Having a smaller clientele than that of big brands presents the opportunity and a bit of time for you to study your clients’ consumption, purchasing habits, personal preferences and find ways to best sustain the collection of this data. In addition to this, you still have time to go back to the drawing board and rework your customer experience.

With all that in mind, perhaps it’s time to revisit your growth strategy?