4 ways small business can out-gun big brands in the content marketing stakes

Small business versus big business

Okay, so your business doesn’t have deep pockets or the resources of a bigger brand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tip the playing field to your advantage every now and then when it comes to social media and content marketing.

The thing is, the advent of social media and online publishing platforms has made it easier rather than harder for small businesses to compete for share of voice (or put another way, people’s attention). Previously, you had no way of competing in terms of spending money on advertising.

But now advertising isn’t cutting through as effectively as it once was; our habits have changed and we’re more than happy to get information from all manner of sources, including brands, but only if we trust them.

And this is where smaller enterprises can mix it effectively with the big boys.

But it’s not simply that cut and dried. You do need to compete on the fronts where the big guys potentially can (and do) struggle. Please bear in mind though, there are examples of big organisations that are improving in the areas discussed below, and likewise, small businesses that are so conservative they’re in danger of becoming irrelevant.

I outline these below:

 1.  PASSION

Very rare will you feel the passion, excitement and enthusiasm of the creators of content for a large corporation. But you will feel it at the smaller end, particularly when the founder or CEO is involved. But even then, people who work for smaller enterprises are often more engaged than their big end of town counterparts who have had the passion knocked out of them over the journey.

will it blend

GREAT EXAMPLES:

2.  HUMANITY

Smaller organisations mostly are all about the people – those who work there, business partners, and of course, customers and clients; bigger organisations, on the other hand, are more about structures, processes and hierarchies. The closest they come to customers is when the marketing team engages the services of a market research company to run a series of focus groups – and we know how artificial those settings are! Putting your people out there in the spotlight; empowering your internal experts to blog, tweet and make video content that’s useful and helpful for customers; getting your leaders out from the shadows of the boardroom and connecting with people authentically and transparently – this is what big businesses struggle with, but it’s second nature to the ‘small guy’.

GREAT EXAMPLES:

3.  AGILITY

Big enterprises rarely move quickly. Yes, there are some examples of major organisations that can be quite nimble when they want to be, but by and large they’re the Queen Mary, versus the small guy (a speedboat in comparison). Small business operators don’t need layers of permission to do anything, let alone create and publish content, therefore they’re well-placed to get interviews, publish opinions and put industry comment out into the marketplace quickly. Yes, a major enterprise might have a content strategy in place (well, you’d like to think so!) but can they ‘turn on a dime’?

GREAT EXAMPLES:

4.  BRAVERY

As a rule, big organisations focus on minimising risk (which often results in ‘vanilla’ content and boring social media feeds) whereas many small businesses, particularly those guided by savvy entrepreneurs, see this corporate weakness as something to be exploited. For the small guys, it’s simply about doing something cool and interesting whereas it can be a lot harder to think that way within the corporate walls.

Bravery can manifest itself in different ways: Producing content ‘on the fly’ that doesn’t have high production qualities (a Periscope stream, for example); putting out a strong point of view; or hat-tipping or creating positive content about your competitors (e.g. Carryology is one of the world’s most popular bag and wallet review sites – it’s supported by Bellroy but still objectively covers the brand’s competitors).

GREAT EXAMPLES:

Dig in with your content!

Sure, major organisations – with their bigger budgets and more resources – can afford to be slicker with their content, and pump out more of the stuff (which is great, but only if it’s of a high standard) but they also often will lack the heart, spirit and personal touch that resonates so much more with the public.

When it comes to social media and content marketing, this means a lot.

So don’t be dismayed if you feel you’re being outgunned by the big guys! Dig in, create great content that’s interesting and relevant to your target audience (you can do that because you’re probably closer to the people than your larger counterparts) – pick a niche and go after it with all the enthusiasm you can muster.

You might not beat the big boys but at least you should be able to score some valuable ‘points’ (eyeballs, hearts) along the way!

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