5 Ways A Small Business Can Compete With A Large Business

As a small business or start-up it can seem almost impossible at times to compete online with the larger businesses or corporations in your industry.

➡️Everybody knows them

➡️They have ridiculous advertising budgets

➡️They seem to just swoop up all of the good customers

chasing homer simpson GIF

So what on earth can you do to stand out and gain the upper-hand as a smaller business.

Well it just so happens there are a number of things you can do in your digital marketing strategy to gain traction and finally get your share of the pie!

Here are 5 ways a smaller business can use smart Digital Marketing to compete with a larger brand.

1. Use The “Skyscraper” Strategy For Content Marketing

Tall Skyscrapers Showing Content Marketing Skyscraper Technique

 The Skyscraper Technique (a term coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko) is a simple yet extremely effective technique when it comes to SEO and Content Marketing.

When done right, with consistency and the right keywords, it can allow smaller businesses to outrank larger businesses with bigger budget.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Find link-worthy content (ie something your audience would want to share)

Step 2: Make something even better and of more value to your target audience

Step 3: Reach out to the right people and ethically steal your competitors backlinks 🙂

Sounds simple right?

That’s because it is; however that doesn’t mean it’s easy…

This technique ultimately relies on you making a better piece of content than the one currently ranking for your chosen keyword.

Here’s how you do it.

Use a free SEO keyword research tool like Ubersuggest.

Search for the keyword you want to rank for and then find a search term that your target audience may be searching for relating to that keyword.

Once you’ve found one, you’ll then see a list of the top ranking articles for that term (highlighted in yellow on the image below).

Ubersuggest Keyword Research Content Marketing

Next step is to check out the articles in the top 3 positions, consume the content and figure out what’s missing.

Think about what you could add or change that would make it 2, 5 or maybe even 10x more valuable to your audience.

Once you’ve created your incredible new content piece, you’ll want to start getting it out to the right people.

Using Ubersuggest again, you’ll be able to analyse your competitors page and find all the sites linking back to their article.

The next step is to reach out to all of those sites and let them know you have a more up to date, enhanced version of the topic and ask if they’d like to link back to it or share it.

Here’s an article where Brian Dean goes more in-depth on this process and how it works.

Over time, as you start earning more backlinks and shares from high authority domains, your own SEO and domain authority will begin to skyrocket.

This kind of organic traffic advantage is what will allow you to get BIG results without the BIG budgets of your competitors.

2. Be Quick, Dynamic & Adaptable

Athlete Male Running Off Starting Blocks

If you’ve ever worked for a large corporation, you’ll no doubt be aware how long it can take to make even the smallest decisions.

This is the distinct advantage we have as small businesses.

We can be much more agile and flexible with the ability to adapt where required.

Take the COVID-19 lockdown for example; it’s something that nobody could have seen coming and disrupted millions of people all over the world.

Thousands of businesses, big and small were having to close their doors after years of trading! Whilst on the other hand, some smaller businesses were able to quickly adapt; or in some cases, change their entire business model to not only serve their customers better but to also grow faster than ever before.

See the great thing about having a digital or online presence is you have the ability to keep your ear close the ground.

Hang out in forums, groups or platforms where your target audience is and see what they’re saying.

What are their concerns, fears, doubts or struggles…

What complaints are they making about the larger businesses on social media.

You can then use this information to adapt and modify your current offering to gain a competitve advantage.

3. Target Long-Tail Keywords With High Buyer Intent

Long Tail Keywords Search Curve Showing Buyer Intent And Search Volume

If you’re unfamilair with the terms “long-tail” and “short-tail” here’s what it means.

In a nutshell a short-tail keyword is the root keyword like “Apple”.

A long-tail keyword on the other hand adds context to the root keyword. For example “Where to buy a Granny Smith Apple”

Typically when people start paid advertising campaigns or even SEO campaigns, they try to target the big broad short-tail keywords that get lots of traffic.

The downside to this is not only are those keywords competitive and sometimes expensive, but they also don’t show any buyer intent.

So let’s look at a real life scenario.

Take a car dealership targeting the keyword “Honda Civic” for example. Typically when a company tries to either organically rank for a keyword or drive paid traffic to it, they do so with the ultimate goal of increasing sales.

The problem with this keyword is just because someone is searching Honda Civic; it doesn’t mean they want to buy one.

They could be looking for a service, a review, or maybe even just a picture to show their friend! As a result that dealer is going to end up spending inordinate amounts of time and money on targeting a keyword with no real buyer intent.

On the other hand, if someone is searching for “best deals on used Honda Civic in London”

That is an extremely specific search term that not only signals buyer intent, but will also have less competition and will be easier to rank for.

Want personalised advice on your marketing?

Book your FREE digital review today and we’ll record you a 10 minute video looking at your current marketing and advertising strategy and  suggest some ways you could significantly increase your results and get ahead of the competition!

It’s worth noting that paid advertising campaigns with high-buyer intent keywords can often be more expensive on a CPC (cost-per-click) model. However, experimenting with a variety of long-tail keywords can often reveal some hidden gems for an extremely low cost!

Using the keyword research tool on Ubersuggest can help you find those low competition, high buyer intent keywords.

4. Work On Your Top Of Funnel Awareness

Image Showing Marketing Funnel Filling From The Top

As we mentioned above, targeting keywords with high buyer intent can often be expensive, especially without the right keyword strategy and research beforehand.

But what if there was a way to get potential buyers into your business, before they’re even ready to buy and for a much cheaper cost…

Here’s the thing, whilst it can be useful to target those ready-to-buy consumers to keep cash coming into the business; if you REALLY want to compete with the big players, you need to start building out a full sales and marketing funnel.

One way of doing this is by offering a lead magnet on your website designed to both educate and entice the people who aren’t ready to buy just yet.

They would then ideally go into an automated lead nurture campaign that delivers value and builds the relationship with that customer until they are ready to buy.

The great thing about this approach is that it keeps your brand front of mind and if you do a good enough job of delivering value up front; it’ll be a no-brainer for them to deal with your business when the time comes to make a purchase.

This video goes into more detail about top-of-the funnel marketing.


5. Show Your Customers You Understand Better Than Anyone Else

2 Brains Being Connected With Lines

If there’s one thing to remember when it comes to marketing your business.

It’s that people want to feel UNDERSTOOD.

You can brag about your accolades and awards all you want, but if I don’t feel like you truly understand ME or my problems, I’ll find somebody else who does!

A lot of large brands do a terrible job at this!

Whilst they might have been relatable once upon a time, this often wear off as the business grows. Espeically when they have external stakeholders to please!

This has been shown time and time again in BrandTrust surveys.

That’s why it’s so important to get crystal clear on your customer avatar and always keep them front and centre of your marketing message.

Most importantly though, think about where they are right now and where they want to be.

We have a great exercise we take our clients through called the transformation grid which allows you to clearly articulate that transformation in your marketing.

By doing this, your customers will feel like you truly understand their problems and will be much more likely to engage with your business as a result.

You can learn more and access our free worksheet here.

Now it’s your turn!

Hopefully that’s given you the ideas and inspiration you need to start finally getting ahead of the competition.

No more David vs Goliath…

And after all, there’s enough customers in the world for everyone! You just need to know how to reach them!


As always, if you’d like a personalised video audit of your website, SEO and digital marketing presence, be sure to book your FREE Digital ReviewOne of out experienced team will record you a 10-15 minute screen share showing you how to increase traffic, leads and sales.

Ciao for now!

Tom Peyton
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