By Tina Zafiropoulos
Startups often criticise the way that big brands are able to control the market by using oversized billboards and elaborate television campaigns. The convenience of pumping external funding or even retained profits into a brand means that a virtuous cycle is created; more money leads to higher traffic which leads to more sales which brings us back to more money.
However what differentiates a successful startup to the one that fails within the first year of business is the ability to understand that you CAN compete with the big boys… and it is in fact the big boys who should be fearful of your organic growth in comparison to the excessive costs that they have become so accustomed to.
Here are 3 strategies that will allow you to take on the big brands without the big bucks:
- ONLINE PRESENCE costs TIME
We all love a good buzzword so here’s another one – online presence. An online presence is simply the way your business is placed on the web.
How many followers do you have? Now how many of those followers are active which means they engage, comment and SHARE your Instagram and Facebook posts? It is important to create an active engagement on your social media by providing good quality content. Create visually appealing photographs of your products and services. Provide us with some inspiration – perhaps a quote or two. Do what social media was created to do – entertain us and make it shareable.
SpotJobs.com has over 70, 000 collective social media followers and let’s face it – there’s nothing sexy about a jobs board. Yet founders Lewis Romano and Jake Williams have still managed to ensure their content is inspirational and often humorous which ensures quality engagement with their brand and directly targets the thousands of entry-mid level positions they have available. So invest not your money but your time in providing your market with a solid representation of your brand online.
2. Tell your story
2014 has brought with it much business curiosity. We as consumers want to know how you started your business? Why? And do we like you as a person?
Robert Coorey, Director of Global Business at E-Web Marketing and author of the bestseller, Feed a Starving Crowd points out that “Small business can run rings around big business… fans want businesses to be raw and real. Big businesses are normally unwilling to do this and the small businesses that tell their personal stories are the winners”.
Stolen Recipe Ice Tea is one such brand that has told consumers their story by displaying it directly on their packaging. Founders Donna and Tom McCoy began crafting freshly brewed ice teas in their own kitchen for family and friends who constantly suggested they ‘steal’ their recipe ideas to create at the next gathering. As a result consumers feel connected to Donna and Tom, who turned a simple family idea into one of the largest ice tea brands in Australia, available nationally in the Woolworths Chilled Juice Section.
Australians love transparent brands and there is no one better to take on a large competitor than an underdog!
DIY media pitching and Cross-Collaborate
Do-it-yourself media pitching is very much a controversial topic in the PR industry, specifically because I myself am in the business of public relations and therefore must know your brand better than you right? FALSE! I’d argue that the best PR agencies work from the inside out, and take cue and direction from each business owner/internal team on where they see the business heading and then advise/execute a plan -> because no one should know WHY you’re in business more than you know WHY you’re in business.
If you don’t have the budget to invest in a PR retainer then you surely are capable of some do-it-yourself media. Is your story newsworthy? If and only IF yes, there is no reason why a journalist or reporter won’t be interested if it’s coming directly from you. While PR agencies have of course built and watered their media relationships, you should already have an idea of what makes your business different. What makes you, as a personality, different? If you can’t answer these two questions then perhaps you have bigger things than your PR to worry about.
Get yourself on twitter and search for an appropriate reporter. Heck, pick up the phone and call the switchboard yourself. Don’t underestimate the power of public relations and if you don’t have the luxury of a professional agent then this is a solid alternative. Reporters are constantly on the hunt for interesting stories and if you can provide them with something newsworthy the reach is exceptional. We’re talking… millions of reads exceptional.
It’s not impossible to compete with the big boys and until your business can afford the luxury of widespread billboards and commercial campaigns there are indeed alternatives that involve a greater deal of hustle yet great rewards!
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