Me at 3 in 1960

Small Business Saturday – because bigger doesn’t always mean better

Small Business Saturday – because bigger doesn’t always mean better

Small Business Saturday – because bigger doesn’t always mean better

I’m straying a little from marketing today to support Small Business Saturday for tomorrow.

During this Thanksgiving, I was of course, thankful for family, friends and more. But on a business level, I have been thinking about how thankful I am for having been the little one in the family – it has given me the right perspective on small business.

Me at 3 in 1960

Me at 3 in 1960

As the youngest of 5 kids in my family, my siblings were already an established “family” before I came along as a surprise. As a result, I was always struggling to be included and often reminded I was too small to do their big kid stuff… It was infuriating!

Small business often has that same problem – told they are too small to compete or participate with the more established big guys:

  • Too small to enjoy the same merchandise buying discounts as the big guys
  • Too small to hold the same discount at sales as the big guys
  • Too low in volume to support greater variety in products and services
  • Too small to support a no-questions-asked return policy.

And the consumers are buying into this mentality. I say it’s BULL.

The problem is not that small business unable to keep up with big business. The problem is the perception held by the public that the best can only come from a big business.

Why is a big business like American Express supporting Small Business Saturday? Because they understand on which side their bread is buttered.

Small business is best seated for repeat business and high customer loyalty. On a per square foot basis, a small business can profit far more than the big guys if his business is consistent and therefore invest more back into the business for the benefit of the customer and the growth of their business.

Big business has to support corporate level management, huge marketing budgets, and high turnover in staff. The less personalized the business, the more the need for external support.

If you shop at a good small business, you enjoy so many perks that larger businesses can’t touch.

Who can expect the teenager of the month who has little invested in their employment other than the wages offered? Will they give personal attention and great customer service? Having a regular salesperson(s), even knowing their schedule so that you can count on them being there, increases the likelihood a consumer will return.

Know that offered discounts in a small business, however small they may seem, are REAL. 

Why do you think loyalty cards are so important in the big businesses? Because they can’t count on the staff to engender the kind of customer loyalty a small business can. Therefore, they have created a perceived “loyalty discount” with merchant cards to receive the discount. Items offered previous to “sales” are often ticketed at a higher profit margin to absorb the subsequent larger cuts that are now expected by the consumer. Before all these discount programs, there never used to be 70-80% discounts as that used to be below cost. No size business can survive selling regularly below cost, so do the math…

When you think about it, large businesses don’t offer much more one gets doing business online. In fact, their online customer service is often better than their brick and mortar because they are competing to grow their online business and focus on a small business style customer service approach to grow loyalty.

They understand that a small business thrives on personal engagement and building relationships with the customers.

The small business understands that if all they have is product, they will not survive.

This is why small business does so well in social media. It is a true reflection of their business culture of intimate customer service and interest in their consumer. Big businesses are failing in social media compared to small business – except in their coupon offerings. And there we go again with the false discount perception…


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  1.  Find the customer’s need, then find a way to fulfill it to make the sale. | Small Business Smart Marketing
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