When starting a business, many entrepreneurs look forward to the day when their company will become the respected giant in its field. The owner can already foresee global expansions and a network of international workers. These people will satisfy customers from New York to Hong Kong. However, the truth is, the competitors that big companies often lose out to are small businesses. Why is this?

Think of a giant and a small boy. A giant can crush a boy with one flick of his enormous finger or a stomp of his foot, but it takes a lot for the giant to lift a hand or take a step. If the boy is paying attention, and remains agile, he can get out of the way in time and even cause the giant to trip over himself. When it comes to creating a competitive edge, online marketing services for small businesses is like this. It is a part of the tactic that makes the little guy a formidable opponent.

It is also important to note that digital marketing strategies for small businesses require more than cutting the budget. The tactics are fundamentally different from those used by multi-national corporations. The strategies must account for a company’s smaller size, smaller budget and the niche it occupies in the market.

A small business’ demographic may also differ. For example, consider the people who visit a local café with a good book after work. They are unlikely to be the same people grabbing a quick cup of Starbucks in the early morning. Here are some additional details on how marketers tailor online marketing services for small businesses and why they need to.


How Marketing Services Differ for Small Businesses

Forbes notes that the main problem small businesses contend with is fewer resources. This is at the heart of where the differences lie between marketing companies for the Goliath versus the David of particular fields.

1. The Need for a More Specific Focus

When a company has a large or seemingly limitless budget to work with, it may focus on multiple things at once. A good example of this is Google. Google operates on both a B2C and B2B business model. It serves customers directly with its smart devices and Google Fi phone plan. However, it also provides tools that marketers from other businesses rely on. In addition to this, Google has a foot in everything from medicine to home security.

Most small businesses do not have this luxury. The owners must choose a focus. Should they provide services to other companies or should they serve individual consumers only? Will they specialize in serving one type of demographic, and if so, how much are they willing to specialize? Online marketing services for small businesses reflect these decisions and help companies to hone in on what they do best until there are further opportunities for expansion.

2. Working on Uniqueness Over Dominating

Because big companies do not need to stick to one or a handful of focus points — though some do — they can afford to focus on becoming a dominant figure. For this example, take a look at Apple versus Google. Now, you may be thinking, “But these are two of the world’s biggest tech giants!” However, while Apple and Microsoft dominate the laptop market, tech giant Google does not. Thus, Apple can create products and related ads that appeal to the general populace and win them.

Google, which is less popular, has to become more creative. It instead focuses on building a unique product that is not for everyone. The Chromebook, for example, serves a very niche market. Online marketing services for small businesses follow a similar vein. Café chains may claim to be the biggest and most popular across America. In contrast, a small café may focus on providing the best blueberry muffin you’ll ever hear of for 50 miles in all directions.

3. Bigger Focus on Retention Over New Customers

Every business wants new customers, but bigger companies are often more focused on this than retention. One lost customer is easily replaced by another because virtually everyone in their target demographic may already know they exist. People are constantly walking in through their virtual or physical business doors, so the loss is not as heavily felt. Until they begin to see a mass “migration” of customers to other platforms or brands, it is not often viewed as a cause for concern.

Consider websites for this example. Popular platforms, such as BBC, CNN and CNBC, can expect traffic year-round. As trusted names in the news, they mostly focus on disseminating that news to as many people as possible. In contrast, a smaller opinion-ed blog does not have this luxury. While it does try to reach as many people as possible, a smart admin focuses more on retaining the same readers by inviting them to subscribe.

4. More Personalized Experience for Customers

When customers seek the products or services of a larger corporation, they rarely expect to get singled out by the company at all. Revisit the café example once more. A customer who goes to Starbucks for early morning coffee is probably only there for a few minutes. She gets her name written on her cup and when her order is ready, someone shouts for her to know. If she didn’t show up for a week, few people if anyone might notice. Even if they did, they may not believe it is their place to ask why.

In contrast, a customer visits a café after work every Friday to unwind. He orders a cappuccino and blueberry muffin every time. Two or three weeks go by and one waitress realizes she has not seen him. She mentions this to the manager, who may have access to the customer’s email due to a prior promotion. Rather than send a general email, she crafts a personalized offer for Mr. X. In it, she invites him back to the restaurant with a 20% off coupon for his next order of cappuccino and blueberry muffins. Larger corporations often lack this personal touch in their marketing campaigns. They generally only have the ability to focus on segments.

5. The Difficult Restrictions of Money and Time

According to Gartner, a research and advisory company, large companies spend 13% of their revenue on marketing. Meanwhile smaller companies spend roughly 10%. The organization defined large companies as earning more than $5 billion in annual revenue. This is at least $650 million spent on marketing each year. Gartner defined smaller companies as earning $250 million to $500 million in revenue. That is up to $50 million spent on marketing annually.

Entrepreneur.com also states that small businesses spend an average of $400 per month on marketing or $4,800 per year. These figures represent wide gaps in marketing budgets and can either limit or expand what a company can afford to do to get noticed. As it relates to time, larger corporations can spend money on marketing strategies that offer long-term benefits, such as raising awareness. Smaller businesses typically do not have this luxury. They need more immediate results.


Marketing Strategies That Keep Small Businesses Agile

When it comes to online marketing services for small businesses, there are several digital strategies companies can employ to compete with the big boys. Here are a few of the most highly recommended.

1. Search Engine Optimization

Not every business relies on getting discovered online to bring in revenue. Still, there is hardly a business that could not benefit from this. SEO helps companies grow their online presence naturally by creating content with a hidden formula in mind. SEO writers create the content in a way that answers a customer’s questions based on how Google recognizes that query and ranks potential solutions.

2. Google My Business

Another way a small business can improve its online presence is to claim its Google My Business page and keep it up to date. Encouraging customers to leave the business a review could also help signal to search engines to include the company in local searches.

3. Pay-Per-Click Ads

SEO takes time and the effect of Google My Business requires both time and chance. For quicker results, digital strategies include PPC ads. Some companies focus exclusively on Google AdWords. However, Facebook, Quora and even Bing offer similar services that have benefited some marketing campaigns.

4. Social Media Use

A company can use social media to spread the word about what it does, its accomplishments and local events. It can also use social media to funnel people to the blog. Some companies use social media for customer support by finding and reaching out to disgruntled or even potential customers. Finally, many social media platforms provide ad services.


The Bottom Line

Digital marketing for small businesses requires a different mindset than when providing the same services for larger corporations. There is more to this art than simply scaling down services to fit a smaller budget. Partner with a marketing agency that better understands your needs as a small business. Contact us at (800) 261-1537 to get started.


Amanda is the Vice President of Marketing at Boostability. Amanda has 15 years of marketing and public relations experience. Prior to Boostability, Amanda was Co-Founder and CMO of PromoJam Social Marketing Platform, acquired by Deluxe Corporation in 2014.