We all know of the big names in our field – in tech, there’s Google, Facebook and Microsoft. In coffeeshops, there’s Starbucks. The fast-food world is dominated by McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC. How did these businesses build such an empire? And how can a small business owner compete with these larger, established businesses, in the hopes to one day have the same success?

Below, you’ll find the 6 key methods with which a smaller business can compete with larger competitors. With these key methods, you’ll find the means by which to insert yourself in the market, and earn a portion of the market share.

Methods to Compete with Larger Competitors:

Innovation

Behind any successful business is the idea at its foundation and the belief that this idea is worth pursuing. Breaking into the market requires innovation, and innovation doesn’t happen overnight. But it’s not enough to just be innovative, you also have to stand by your ideas. Positioning expert Al Ries suggests that faith in your ability to innovate is as important as the innovation itself – and one of the biggest companies in the world, McDonald’s, proves just that.

McDonald’s was a project started by two brothers – by replacing waiters with a self-service counter and pre-packing burgers that were kept warm under heating lamps, they were able to quickly and cheaply provide food to customers. The idea was genius, innovation at its best – no one at the time had seen anything like it. But the McDonald brothers weren’t getting too far with this idea, until Ray Kroc came along. Ray Kroc believed in this idea, and franchised it. And this is how McDonald’s went from small business to an empire, and how Ray Kroc became owner of the McDonald’s name.

Conquer and own your niche

The saying about being a Jack of all trades, but a master of none is true – you can’t have it all in the business world, especially as a small business. Your job as a small business owner is to cater to the smaller niche groups that are largely ignored or left aside by big businesses. This is because a small group has very specific needs, and specific needs are much easier to meet than generalized ones that will cause you to spread yourself thin.

Once you meet the needs of a smaller group, you will have that group’s trust – and they will be the ones to help you spread your services to related groups. If you make sure that your initial niches are satisfied, and are receiving a unique service from you, their trust will follow. This circle of trust that slowly grows will eventually allow you to compete with the large business market, and will allow you to own the niches in which you’ve worked so hard to establish yourself.

If you need an example of why slow and steady conquering of niche groups is your best growth strategy, look no further than the story of Facebook. By starting as a Harvard-only social network, gaining trust and a loyal user-base, and then slowly expanding outwards – first to related niches (other universities and high schools), and then to the general public, Facebook was able to become the dominant force in the social media network world.

Customer service

Bigger businesses often miss the target when it comes to customer service and customer support. With the ability to automate customer service in the last 20 years, big business has lost the personal touch that so many people need and appreciate.

Human nature encourages personalized attention and connection – and good customer service incorporates exactly that. Where big businesses lose customers due to frustration with automation and inability to receive assistance, it is possible for small businesses to shine. Once you make a personalized connection, customers are encouraged to continue doing business with you – even if it costs them an extra dime.

Small businesses are good at personalization (and should take advantage of this!). Take Lightricks Customer Support, for example. From its beginnings as a bootstrapped startup, Lightricks has always put customer service and customer support at its forefront. And this is exactly what you should do as a small business owner. When you take the time to answer your customers, you’re proving that they’re being seen, and that their business is valued. While the larger businesses competing with you are losing customers left and right, you’ll be building a loyal fanbase that will feel an authentic connection – and will help you climb to success by spreading the word to friends.

Scrappy social media

Just because social media runs the world, doesn’t mean that you can set all other strategies aside. In fact, one of the advantages of social media is that it can work for you, instead of you doing the work – and this is what we mean by scrappy social media.

One of the most important things to keep in mind with social media for business is that a long-term plan is crucial. You can’t expect to get to all the important people immediately, and you need to keep those that you pick up along the way hooked, and great social media will work on all these fronts. When you have a long-term plan, you’ll be able to keep your audience constantly engaged with the content you’re making for them, and you’ll keep them wanting more. Once you have a plan in effect, you won’t have to invest as much – a steady content plan develops its own rhythm, and will allow you to free up time in your schedule to plan out larger, more sophisticated strategies to reach your target audience.

In developing a scrappy social media strategy, you’ll want to do a few things.

  • First, look around – your competitors are competitors for a reason, and they will often also be a huge source of inspiration.
  • Second, think of how to emotionally appeal to your audience. Scrappy social media means that you don’t necessarily have to have the fanciest looking pages – as long as you’ve got your audience’s emotional investment, even with something simple (think memes!), you’re doing it right.
  • Third, use video content to visually engage your audience. As you’ll see below, video marketing (including video marketing for small local businesses) is one of the strongest forms of marketing in today’s consumer market, and social media is where the majority of people consume video content.
  • Lastly, as you grow your social following, connect with your audience. These are the people who will then be your best salespeople, and this is influencer marketing at its finest.

By following these bits of advice, you’ll have a social strategy in no time – and one that can easily compete with that of big businesses.

Plan scalability

As a small business owner, you have to know both how to think small and how to think big. In order to establish yourself in your niche, you have to think small, about the details that will allow you to win over a very specific crowd. But a successful business model doesn’t end with satisfying one need of one niche.

Knowing your niche well will allow you to also think big – think about what other niches you can conquer, and where the future is taking you. You have to know not only how to grow, but into what other areas you’ll want to expand.

The other important aspect of planning scalability to keep in mind is that if you don’t believe in yourself, no one will. And believing in yourself means investing in yourself. Yes, frugality is also essential when you’re starting out small, but make sure to think ahead! Investing in high-quality equipment, for example, is essential. These will be long lasting, and instead of wasting your time and money on tools that repeatedly need to be replaced. Plan for growth, and set your sights on the future.

Sleek video marketing

Vision is the sense we rely on most – it’s no wonder that the majority of content that we consume is visual. With the amount of time people spend on social media only going up, and with attention spans becoming shorter and shorter, any business will really have to put forth the work to catch an audience’s attention. This is even more true for a small business, which may have limited reach.

Studies show that video is the most consumed type of content on social media – this is the type of content that will help you gain the most attention. As a small business owner with limited investing power, you need to keep in mind that each view counts. Because of this, your videos need to be sleek, well-designed, and powerful.

As a small business owner, you’ll find a lot of tools out there to help you with video content creation. You may have to invest some time to figure out which of these tools works best for you, but once you find one, it’ll be quick, trusty, and easy-to-use – and most importantly, will save you the time and the headache of dealing with the production of content creation.

Remember, video is the future of communication – now is the time to invest!