Giant companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon seem to have everything. They've got the revenue (in the hundreds of billions in 2016), the workforce (hundreds of thousands of people), and the marketing budget (also in the hundreds of thousands).

With all that going for them, what advantages could small business marketers possibly have over the marketing departments at these giants?

The answer: plenty.


Today's marketing landscape is all about the ability to pivot - to change direction quickly when something isn't working.

Your Facebook ad campaign isn't bringing in qualified leads? Change it today. Your brand voice isn't resonating with fans? Revamp it. Your Medium account isn't getting enough hits to be worth the resources you spend on it? Cancel it.

Small business marketers have the freedom to make big, sweeping changes in order to better satisfy customer demand. They don't have 5 levels of management to go through, or a chain of approvals to get before switching out an ad campaign.

This can allow them to be much more agile in responding to changes in the market, which can give them a competitive advantage over larger companies.

Local ties that create stronger customer loyalty

Giant companies often have trouble relating closely to their local communities. This happens for many reasons - leadership may not consider it a priority, or the marketing department may just not know where to start.

But any small business can tell you that local customers tend to be far more loyal than non-local customers. Supporting local businesses is an important value to today's consumers, and they're often willing to go out of their way - whether by paying more, attending an event, or shopping in person rather than online - in order to do so.

All marketers have to do is give their customers the opportunity.

Make sure that you're considering your local supporters, even if your audience is nationwide. Give them a social media shout-out, offer them special perks, or schedule a local love-type event to show those fans how much their support means to your company.

Ability to adopt new technology quickly

If you've ever worked at a large company, you know that new tech implementation can be one serious beast.

At small businesses, however, it's far easier to adopt new technology. This is excellent for marketers, in particular, as there are so many useful tools out there that can make our jobs easier. Marketing automation software, online social media management tools, Google Alerts - these can help with every stage of the digital marketing journey.

Small business marketing departments have far fewer people to train. That means it's more likely that everyone will learn how to use the technology correctly, as well as make it easier for people to ask questions and get guidance if they don't know how to do something.

That's huge in terms of avoiding snafus.

Narrower market focus

Because small businesses aren't trying to appeal to everyone, like a Target or a Barnes & Noble, their marketers can spend more time focusing in on key market segments. In other words, they can go deeper, rather than wider.

Creating more involved, narrowly focused campaigns can yield higher rates of success, create stronger bonds with customers, and allow marketers to try new or experimental tactics. That's not to mention that they're often more fun to work on, too!

Less outside pressure

Often, small businesses are able to operate more on their own timelines than large corporations. That's certainly not always the case - take startups that are accepting investment dollars, for instance.

Those businesses aside, however, in general marketers at small businesses are able to set the timelines that work for them, rather than having to fit their campaigns into pre-determined schedules.

And since autonomy fosters innovation, the more autonomy a marketing department can have - to a reasonable degree, of course - the more likely they'll come up with original, authentic, and effective campaigns.

Marketers at small businesses have their challenges just like anybody else. But every now and then, take stock of your advantages. By realizing what they are, you can empower your marketing department to take smart risks and develop new, innovative ideas - even if that department consists of nobody else but you.


Shama Hyder is founder and CEO of The Marketing Zen Group, a best-selling author, and an internationally renowned keynote speaker. Her most recent book is Momentum (May 2016).