Many small or medium businesses aren’t trying to take over the international business scene or go head-to-head with Amazon and the other “big boys.” But thanks to the omnipresent nature of the internet, they actually are competing with these big companies for their customers’ attention and business.
Though the internet does make it so e-commerce giants can dominate markets across the world, it also in some ways gives small businesses the tools and opportunity they need to win customers’ attention in an ever more competitive market. Small businesses can use the internet and online marketing to their advantage to connect with their customers and give them the service they need, regardless of the size of their staff or office.
It doesn’t matter whether your company has 150 employees in a sleek office tower or two friends working out of their basement. Online all that matters is what you present to the world. Regardless of the size of your company, you should have a well-designed website that establishes your brand and your expertise. The website should give your customers all the information they need and do it in a way that is professional and easy to use.
Be the expert
Small companies succeed best when they find a niche that is not being met by their competitors and show customers how they can solve their needs in that niche better than any other company. Through website content, blogs, resource centers, helpful customer service, and other ways, small businesses can establish themselves as an expert in the subject, offering customers knowledge and service that they can’t get from the e-commerce giants. Customers will be more likely to return to that company and to refer their friends when they feel they are working with experts.
Treat your customers well
Traditionally one way that small businesses have been able to compete with larger ones is through excellent customer service that leads to fierce customer loyalty. People would choose to go to the shop down the street because they knew the people there rather than save a few pennies going to the impersonal megastore.
Good customer service can make or break your business, particularly for small and medium sized companies. Whether talking with customers face to face in your store or answering support emails, it is essential to treat them well. Take the time to understand their needs and give them the service and courtesy they deserve.
Make a connection
In addition to great customer service, small businesses can leverage online tools to connect with customers even if they never see them face to face. Be active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media. Use these tools to create a real conversation with your customers, listening to their feedback and responding in a personable way. Make sure your customer service is top-notch and has a personal touch, whether by phone, email, or other means. Just because you do business online doesn’t mean that you can get away with being distant or impersonal. Customers find it a lot easier to be loyal to people and brands with strong personalities than generic corporations.