With over 400 million SMEs estimated to operate around the globe, there is no doubt that small businesses are the backbone of the world’s economy. However, small businesses are not immune to the competition. And, operating with reduced resources compared to larger corporations, they might struggle to keep current and maintain their competitive edge.
If you are the proud owner of a small or local enterprise, you might be looking for ways to innovate your business on a small budget, maintain your unique selling point, and engage with your audience.
No matter whether your business’s goals include expanding, improving your online rating, or increasing your customer footfall, there are plenty of strategies that you can put into action today – even if you are operating on a shoestring! Here are some of the best ways to give your business a competitive edge and maintain it over time.
Understand Your Market Positioning and Target Audience
The first step is to understand where on the market you are operating and what your niche is. This analysis will help you pinpoint the best pricing strategy for your needs, and understand whether you are positioning yourself as a premium or budget brand.
Once you have understood how your competitors compare to your offer, it is time to review your target audience and understand who your buyer persona is.
The buyer persona – or customer persona – is a portrait of your ideal customer. If you are trying to gain insights into your target audience, creating a buyer persona will tell you a lot about your customer’s preferences, dislikes, pain points, desires, and problems that need solving. This can help you develop a more appealing offer for your target audience.
Be Clear on Your Brand Identity
Once you are clear on where your enterprise is positioned on the market and who is your ideal customer, it is time to start working on your brand. Most small businesses just tend to find a solution that fits their preferences and budget. However, there is a lot more to designing a brand identity than just deciding on a name, logo, and colors.
For example, you will need to define your visual identity. Your brand’s visual identity refers to all imagery, video, symbols, font, logos, and color patterns you use to be immediately visible and recognizable by your audience.
Additionally, you should understand your vocal identity, which refers to your brand’s tone of voice, messaging, and communication strategies. Are you a formal local business targeting B2B customers? Or do you have a younger target audience and you are trying to present yourself as an alternative brand?
Whatever your goal is, make sure to align your brand’s visual and vocal identity with your business values.
Focus on Promoting Local or Sustainable Products
As a local brand, it is impossible not to focus on creating a more local and sustainable business. Don’t forget that embracing sustainability goes far beyond just swapping plastic straws for their paper counterpart.
Sustainability means creating job positions for local talents, investing in personal and personal development opportunities for your employees, and doing your best to improve your community as a whole.
Additionally, embracing sustainability is essential to improve your bottom line. As more customers look at sustainability as a major factor to consider during their buying process, it is essential for businesses to build sustainability into their model and offer to remain profitable.
Partner With Charitable Organizations and Complementary Businesses
When looking to incorporate a competitive edge, many small businesses make the mistake of lowering their price range or uniquely focusing on their product offer. But customers are always more interested in becoming loyal to businesses that share their own values and are actively involved in improving the local community.
That is why it is important to build the right reputation. There are many ways to do so, but one of the best strategies is to partner with charitable associations and become involved in non-profit activities. From volunteering to helping at local events, there are plenty of opportunities to do good while building a positive reputation for your enterprise.
Additionally, don’t forget that it might also be beneficial to partner with local businesses offering services complementary to yours. This allows your customers to enjoy a better service and can help you establish a long-lasting network of partners.
Invest in Professional Small Business Marketing
No business can survive without an ad hoc marketing strategy tailored to that enterprise’s unique goals. In particular, you should consider partnering with a small business marketing expert.
These professionals will help you better understand how to position your brand, what channels to use to connect with your community, and what type of marketing investments will yield the best returns.
Whether you are looking to expand and attract more customers, or simply want to improve your online reputation, a tailored small business marketing strategy can truly work wonders.
Continue Investing in Yourself and Hone Your Skills
Your business will only be as successful as you and your team are. That is why it is particularly important to continue investing in yourself, finding courses, and getting the right certifications.
Bear in mind that emerging technologies are reshaping many job positions and tasks. And most of today’s workforce will require reskilling and upskilling in the next few years. Keeping yourself current with new technologies reshaping the industry and emerging trends can help you keep your business competitive over time.
Don’t forget that you don’t have to do it all by yourself! Outsourcing your non-core competencies can help you keep your expenses low while tapping into the expertise of industry professionals.
Invest in Building a Solid Online Presence
While looking after the physical premises of your business is important, you should also consider the benefits of moving part of your business online and creating a tailored eCommerce platform.
This solution can help you expand your operations and become more resilient to moments of crisis, such as during the pandemic. Even when not taking into consideration these extreme cases, having an online platform can help you streamline some aspects of your business, such as receiving orders and taking appointments.