Do You Really Want a Big Business Customer?
In a previous post, I spouted off a bit on small businesses who are cursing big business for beating them out, whether it is online in search ranking or in their store fronts.
Small businesses generally don't like the Walmarts of their industry, because they feel they have an unfair advantage with lower prices, bigger advertising budgets, parking, etc...
It is really a matter of picking the right battle.
Consider the following in your small business development strategy:
- Can you handle the demands of a large customer?
For B2B that means a lot of meetings, contacts, calls, revisions, questions, delays, last minute requests. For B2C or e-commerce and retail, it means longer hours open, discounts, instant customer service, ease of purchase, free shipping...
- Will your billing cycle work with their payment cycle?
If you are on the B2B side and you need payment right away, or just can't wait 45-60 days for a large corporation to process- what will that do to your cash flow? For e-commerce and retail, can you handle larger orders, online payment, shipping tracking?
- If you did beat out the big guys, and one customer (or segment of customers in retail) represents more than 20,30, 40, or 50% of your revenue, and that customer goes away, what will happen to your business? ouch.
- Why would the potential customer choose you over a larger company? What makes you special?
And no- customer service does not count, no one knows about or believes in your customer service until they are a customer, so it doesn't seem like a real selling point to someone who is not a customer yet. Customer service is to retain your best customers after the sale, and like sales- should work in collaboration with marketing, especially in this social media age.
What makes your small shop special? Can you offer a guarantee that the big guys can't? Do you charge less for custom orders? Are there hidden fees in the seemingly lower price of the bigger company? Blog about it...
If you are a small retailer or and trying to compete with the likes of Walmart, is your ideal customer really a price shopper who will buy what is cheapest? Or is your ideal customer the ones that want a special item, special services and quality and is willing to pay a little more? (Compare LL Bean to Walmart- both sells coats, but to totally different people).
In short, small businesses might not be able to beat out the Walmart of their world- but that does not mean they can not grow.
Focus on what makes your small business special, figure out who it is that you cater to, find out where those people hang out online, and be in the right place at the right time.
And if you want some help figuring out what is special about your small business, give us a shout and get some outsider perspective. Or sign up for our first smarketing webinar with 8 other marketing agencies and sales professionals and start getting your hands dirty.
Indicate Carole sent you.