4 Tips to Help Small Businesses Compete with National Brands

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2020 was one of the most difficult years for small businesses. Countless companies failed to stay afloat, let alone expand, so it might be difficult to think about advertising right now. However, if you are one of the few that made it this far, you’re already ahead of the curve.

From here, you have to accept that if you’re not advertising, someone else is. Your biggest competition may not always be a business similar to your own, but rather whoever is pushing the strongest campaign in your area.

For restaurants and nail salons, you could be offering a special or service that no one else is, yet customers keep returning to the same overpriced chain because they’re familiar with the brand.

Building brand recognition isn’t as hard as it seems, but you’re probably not going to go about it the same way a national chain would. These companies have access to seemingly unlimited advertising budgets, so it’s important to hone in on what works for you where you can.

IndoorMedia believes in small businesses, and we’ve compiled this cheat sheet so you can make the most of your advertising campaign.

1. Know Your Niche

Sure, you’re the fourth cafe-style restaurant in town, but only you know what sets you apart.

Zero in on what makes your business special, and make this the focal point of your campaign. Whether you’re the most creative salon specialist or the only restaurant serving your family’s recipes, there’s a reason you went into business. Harness the belief that’s powered your dream this far, and pass it on to the customers in your community.

Once you know exactly what you want to highlight, you can bring this into your campaign by either offering a promotion or building your brand around it. Either way, you’ll be able to draw in customers who either have never experienced what your business does or recognize your idea and can’t believe you’re offering it at such a great price.

2. Advertise Locally 

After you figure out what you want to focus your campaign around, the next step is to figure out how and where to advertise it.

Online marketing promises local targeting and can be a good part of an overall strategy. Consider how much you have to pay for that highly targeted advertising vs. other forms that provide complete coverage, even if some of the ads go to people outside your target market. 

Either way, you’ll have better luck with your campaign if your focus on reaching the people who are most likely to drop by.

One hack is to look into grocery store advertising because grocery stores pull 85% of their business from their store’s 3-mile radius. With around 20,000 customers visiting each week and spending an average of 47 minutes in the store, you’ll get to advertise to a huge swatch of the community in a place they’re guaranteed to return to. With many people visiting the store 2 to 3 times a week, your supermarket advertisement could generate multiple impressions with thousands of people, which means a great return on your campaign investment.

Because we’ve found this to be such a successful venue for small business advertising, we’ve invested in many in-store supermarket advertising platforms.

Our easiest option is to print your coupon or promotion on the backs of grocery store receipts. This means you save on printing costs and have guaranteed interaction with every single customer.

Another great option is Cartvertising, which uses shopping cart ads to put your brand in front of your local community. Shopping cart advertising rates are affordable for local businesses, and we offer a full guide on this option on our website. With every customer looking at your advertisement each time they reach for their cart or pass by another shopper, you’re guaranteed to secure multiple impressions with each shopper’s journey. The rate at which you can build brand recognition compared to how low shopping cart advertising costs means a huge return on your investment.

3. Ask for Reviews

In today’s online landscape, reviews are what build a business. It can be intimidating to believe that any one person’s concept of your service could make or break your business, but it can also be empowering when placed in the hands of the right customer. Plus, if you’re giving it your best every day and offering products and services people can’t find at national chains, you’re already an invaluable part of the community. Eventually, that hard work will pay off, and your business (and customers) will be all the better for it.

One way to expedite the process is to reach out to the customers you’ve already built relationships with. If you have regular clients or a family that shows up every Tuesday night, don’t be afraid to ask them to write an honest review. More often than not, people will be flattered that you trust them enough to ask and happily comply.

Moreover, most people understand that reviews are the bread and butter of a business’s online reputation in today’s world. It’s not often that a restaurant gets a stunning write-up in the local paper or recognition on any major platform. Instead, the power has been reassigned to the people, and the customer’s opinion is king.

4. Build Your Brand Online

Once you’ve secured some positive reviews, your business will look more legitimate online.

The easiest way to take this a step further is to flesh out your company’s website and Google listing. When you search your business’s name, your phone number and address will likely appear, and you’ll have the option to “Claim this Business.” Once you do, you can edit your hours of operation, upload photos, and make sure your business is easy to find. From there, customers will be able to quickly locate your business and hopefully drop by.

If you don’t have a website already, you should look into building one because the more information you can offer customers directly, the more they’ll trust your business. Plus, your website’s breadth can make it easier to communicate what sets you apart from the competition, compared to a two-line bio on your insta profile.

Having access to a platform that represents you exactly how you want to be seen in the world, with the flexibility to change daily, is a great tool for any local business. You don’t need to be on every TV in America, you just need to be there when your customers need you.

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