It’s a lot of hard work, but there are few greater joys than running a small business. Keeping things small allows you and your employees to feel a greater connection to the work being done, and it allows you to provide exceptional service to your valued customers.
But as awesome as it is to be small, there are times when it pays to be big — and a small business can’t just get bigger overnight. It needs time to grow. It could be because of a new opportunity or sudden change in the market, but many small business owners struggle with this, leaving them wishing there were ways to get bigger faster.
And while there aren’t many ways to accelerate growth, there are ways to appear bigger than you are. Here are five of the most effective, and also some reasons why you may want to make this move in the first place.
Why You Need to Look Bigger Than You Are
Looking like a big company is good for a few reasons, such as:
- It helps you establish credibility. We hate to say it, but many consumers associate size with success, and they are sometimes more likely to go with a larger, more well-known entity, as they believe this translates into better products and services.
- Looking big helps you expand your reach, generating new leads and bringing in new customers, which will actually make you bigger.
- Appearing bigger than you are will help you attract more-qualified individuals. People want to work for a company poised for success, and bigger companies do a better job at presenting this image to job seekers, helping them be more successful at recruiting.
- Big companies are seen as authorities in their fields, which helps attract customers and inspire loyalty.
Now that you know a few reasons you may want to appear big even when you’re not, here are some ways to help you do it.
Build A Strong Brand
Having a strong brand helps you in so many ways. It helps your current customers feel more attached to you, giving them a reason to be more loyal. And it also helps you expand your reach to new customers; when people can identify you by your branding, then they are going to remember you when it’s time to make a purchase, giving you a better chance at landing a sale.
And nothing says “big company” like a strong brand. Think about it. The most well-known brands, such as Apple, Nike and Amazon, are some of the world’s largest companies. People tend to associate strong branding with size, as these large companies are able to use their size to create a recognizable brand. As a smaller company, you can reverse engineer this thought process by using strong branding as a way of projecting size.
Of course, you won’t be able to match what big companies do—Super Bowl ads still cost millions—but you can mimic their efforts. Professionally-designed logos, clear and consistent messaging, and a strategic content marketing strategy all encourage strong associations about your company in the minds of your target audiences, which will help make you seem larger and more successful, bringing along all of the benefits this can provide.
Maintain a Good Social Presence
Social media is a such a powerful tool for both small and large businesses as it gives them the chance to intimately interact with their target audiences at many different touchpoints. And because there are so many different platforms, social media can also be used to help you appear larger than you are.
Imagine if a member of your target audience comes into contact with your brand on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Seeing your presence on all of these platforms is going to give the impression you’ve got a large marketing team in place, which inspires confidence and other positive associations about your brand.
Tools such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social, which let you automate your social media accounts, can help a small business maintain a social presence that’s on par with big companies for a fraction of the cost and time-commitment, allowing you to appear bigger than you are.
Design a Killer Website
A website is now beyond essential for a small business. But it’s not enough to just have one, you need to have a great one. People will always shy away from a company when landing on an underwhelming, unprofessional website. As a result, it’s important you do everything you can to make sure your website is as good if not better than other larger companies with which you are competing.
It’s true this requires an investment, but it’s one that’s well worth it. Website platforms like SquareSpace and Wix are fairly easy to use, have built-in templates, and will even host your website. If you feel like doing it yourself just isn’t possible, bring in a professional web developer to help you design a site that delivers a great user experience. And don’t forget to make sure it’s optimized for mobile use, as most people use their phones these days to surf the internet. Giving people an exciting and easy-to-navigate place to learn about your company is going to go a long way towards helping you present yourself to current and potential customers as a large company.
Offer Awesome Customer Service
One of the advantages a small business often has is that it can offer better service to its customers. Fewer clients usually means it’s easier for these companies to tend to the individual needs of each customer. But large companies that make the right investment will be able to blow you out of the water when it comes to customer service. For example, they will have the resources to install a 24/7 customer support line, something people love but that small companies struggle to offer.
However, you can still do this. Installing things such as chatbots onto your site will make it easier for people to get help, and you could outsource your customer service operation so that you can offer the same things as the big companies for less. If you’re in eCommerce, you might consider becoming a Fulfillment By Amazon company, as this will allow you to ship quickly, and Amazon will also handle your customer service, giving you access to one of the largest companies in the world.
Outsource Some Key Functions
This particular tactic affects people’s perceptions in a roundabout way, but it’s still just as effective as any of the others we’ve already discussed. This is because nothing says, “My company is really small,” like a workforce that wears many different hats. If someone calls up to get help with an order, and they end up speaking to someone in sales, this is going to make people think that you are too small to be able to handle the volume you’re receiving.
Outsourcing can help you avoid this. We already mentioned outsourcing customer service, but there are other things you can farm out, such as your payroll and HR operation. Doing this will reduce your employees’ workload, which will allow them to focus more on their core tasks, and it helps present your company as more streamlined, a key characteristic of most large companies that are also successful.
Another added bonus this provides is that it can put you in the same conversation as larger companies. Many third-party vendors like to advertise using testimonials. Having your brand next to that of a much larger company on the vendor’s website is going to make people believe you’re bigger and more important than you are. It’s true this is going to affect a small group of people. But in business, every little bit helps.
Sometimes Appearances Matter
As a small business, it’s important to stay true to who you are. It’s what makes you unique, and this distinction is likely a big part of your competitive edge. But making yourself appear larger than you are is not a betrayal of your identity. Instead, it’s a smart tactic for helping you expand your reach, connect better with your target market and grow your business.
About the Author: Jock is the founder of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service specializing in the buying/selling and appraisal of online businesses. He works closely with small business owners to help them develop and implement a growth strategy, with the end goal being the sale of the business. This, plus his own entrepreneurial experience, has helped make him an expert in small business growth. He contributes regularly to blogs and other online forums so as to serve as a resource for other small business owners.