Large corporations spend a lot of money on marketing. They understand just how important it is to add value to their brand, to keep them "top of mind" with their customers, to show that they are good corporate citizens and to actually sell their products or services. Because of this they spend a lot of money on research and getting very high-level technical and creative marketing advice.
Now I know that most small businesses don't have big budgets to spend on marketing, but the good news is, you don't need to. If you take the time to closely look at what the larger corporations are doing, you can get plenty of exceptional marketing ideas that are fundamentally sound, with the research done and the concepts ready to be adapted to your business.
As an example let's talk about being a great corporate citizen. This simply means that your business plays an active role within the community where it operates, with the aim being to make a social or environmental difference. Large corporations are spending a lot of money in this space and they are very active at promoting the good they are doing? Why? Because research shows that their customers (and shareholders) want to know that the companies they are buying from are good corporate citizens. So any small business needs to adopt the same principle. First of all actually be a great corporate citizen and then make sure you tell you customers that you are.
How about advertising? Look at fast food franchises like McDonalds and KFC. There is much greater promotion of healthy items like salads, skinless chicken, low fat desserts and wholesome style foods. Why? Because considerable research has shown that customer are getting healthy and they want healthier food choices. In my mind this means that any food business needs to be heading down the same path. Source better quality and organic foods and make sure you promote this fact to your customers.
There are many more examples of this, with the moral to the story being to look to larger corporations for marketing ideas that have been tested and well researched at a level that small business never could do. Now I am not saying that the larger corporations get it right all the time, but when it comes to marketing they tend to get it right more often than they get it wrong.
Take the time to research larger corporations, watch their television commercials, read their brochures, visit their websites, and look at their print advertisements. See how they use consistency in their advertising. See how they use quality photographic images and generally just one per advertisement. Notice how they keep text in advertisements to a minimum, selling emotions rather than facts and figures.
The corporate world is a wonderful source of inspiration and information and it is there waiting for any business to utilize.