How to Outcompete Big Chains

In today’s world of big corporate businesses and large chains that seem to dominate almost every market is it realistic, or even possible, for small businesses to try and compete?

Of course! Just because a Home Depot or Pizza Hut is down the street does not mean that your mom and pop hardware store or local pizza joint is destined to fail. In fact, in many ways local businesses actually have the upper hand over large national chains. The following are five tactics that your local business can implement to out-compete the big chains and thrive.

The first tactic is to publish your business address; or in some cases, confirm that online directories have the correct address for your business. Google has taken pride in making it easier to find local businesses over the past several years. But how is Google supposed to know that you’re a local business if they don’t have your address correct? Make sure to list your location on your local business’ website. It is also a good idea to confirm that online directories have the correct address as well; you can do this by going to http://getlisted.org.

The second tactic is to host events in your community. Face-to-face contact is the best way to make business connections and reach out to potential customers. This is where large chains are at a disadvantage, because often times they are unable to reach out to every community in this manner. And be creative with your events! For example, if you are running a local butcher shop, you could host a 4th of July barbeque and hotdog eating contest. The event would be fun and entertaining for everyone, while drawing attention to the quality of your products.

Next, start a business blog. Yes, I know everyone is doing it; but large chains aren’t able to hone in on local markets in their blogs. They are only able to focus on regional and national markets. With Google’s efforts to bring the spotlight back to local businesses, local business blogs are becoming more powerful than ever before. This brings us to our fourth tactic.

When you do publish material, whether it be through Facebook, blogs, or local newspapers, give your content some local flavor. What’s the scoop around your area? Large chains and corporate businesses are often unaware of things that are going on at the local level, and as we discussed earlier they probably have not made face-to-face contact with their customers. This gives you the upper hand in the local market. Doing this will make you more than just a business, it will make you an integrated part of, and asset to, the community.

Last, but certainly not least, form partnerships with complementary local businesses. All of them are in the same position as you are, and small business owners generally like other small business owners. Why not work together to cross-promote your businesses? There are tons of ways to form healthy partnerships with other local businesses; you just need to get creative. Perhaps you could exchange coupons with the local business next door. The possibilities are endless.

Owning and operating a successful local business can often be overwhelming with so many large chains dominating the national market. The secret is to make the most out of what leverage you do have, and to make your mark on the community!

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