What’s wrong with being the little guy?
At a kids basketball game this week, I was amazed at the height of some 12 year olds. I thought, those kids have every advantage. I quickly learned that the ones only shoulder high to their counterparts had their own advantages. They moved faster to get open, could keep the ball lower to the court, and any time ‘sasquatch’ was looking up, they could sneak in and make the steal.
I’ve evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of companies large and small. And yes, sometimes it’s hard to convince a buyer that your product, service or solution is just as good if not better than the provider with 1000+ clients and 500+ employees. But if all they care about is your size, they’re not necessarily taking into consideration what will keep them happy later.
On this blog, you’ll always see me pushing good marketing, but there’s more to it than that. Having worked at a software company with a long sales cycle and customers as old as the company itself, I heard the love, pleas and gripes from clients, the horror stories potential client’s (or lost opportunities) shared, and witnessed first hand the challenges of being the little guy. And what I found is that when you’re small, your success hinges on both your people and your branding.
To make customers and partners perceive you in the same category as the big boys, start with a professional look, share stories potential clients can relate to, promote yourself in the right places and create an integrated communication plan with your sales team that keeps them happy and engaged.
Sharp, cohesive collateral, emails, websites, advertising, etc. not only turn heads, they show that you have experience, a plan of action and can support your client. If you can’t produce the materials yourself, it’s worth the investment in outsourcing those projects. Marketing is a huge component of appearing competitive and bringing folks to the table. Once you have them hooked, you aren’t done! Good follow-up is what really gives you that extra jump in the game.
Communication closes deals whether it comes to your sales staff on the floor or in an office chair. And as a small business, you have an advantage. You have more control over who you have representing you, more quality control over the message and service they offer, and can respond quickly without having to go through four layers of tape like some of your large competitors. A good marketing campaign without tenacious staff willing to pick up the phone more than a few times or engage the customer staring at the shelf in aisle three, doesn’t work.
Make smart, quick and agile your game plan…and don’t forget to look good while you do it.
Bottom-line: Good marketing campaigns engage and entice, but a good sales and service plan is equally important. One without the other will keep you on the bench. But together you won’t be judged by your size.