Big businesses often use their influence and resources to boost the traffic and sales of their smaller, subsidiary businesses. But as small business owners, you can also use some of the excitement and inroads they've created in order to help your own business.
TUTORIAL: Starting a Small Business

1. Outpace Big Businesses in Quality
If you know of a big business with a product or service that has a gap in quality that your own product or service can fill, use their gap to help make your business look even more appealing to consumers. It is possible that, in order to fill this gap, the price of your item will be higher. If this is the case, make sure to mention in your marketing where the shortfall is for less expensive versions, how yours makes up for this and why that difference is important to the consumer. (If your business hits a wall, we've got the answer to break through and increase sales and earnings. For more, see 10 Breakout Ideas For Small Businesses.)

2. Provide Better Customer Service
If a big business sets a certain bar for its customer service methods, make it the goal of your small company to exceed those standards. Provide telephone service where the bigger business doesn't, internet service it can't and response times that are much more aggressive. Whatever that company does for customer service, do it better.

3. Take Advantage of Foot Traffic
If you can lease space for your business, then consider doing so in a shopping center that features a big business with a lot of foot traffic. Remember, hanging your shingle isn't always enough. You need to have some idea of how to attract the attention of those who go to the shopping center to shop at the big business. (Make your dream a reality. Find out what you can do to reach this financial goal. For more, see How To Make $1 Million In Your Small Business.)

4. Capitalize on Hype
If the big business is in your sector and has created major buzz for a product or service you sell, then you can use that buzz to help your own business. One way to do this is to identify to whom the big business is marketing, and try to market to the same segment while giving consumers a reason to choose you over the competition, either by impressing them with a lower price, more flexible return policy or better follow-up customer service.

5. Watch the Big Business Marketing Strategies
Take a look at how these big businesses market to their target consumer. Do they use humor, emotions or fear-based marketing tactics? Do they use direct mail, radio, television or cold calling for marketing? While you may have to scale back on the methods used to make them practical for your budget and manpower, you can pick up on some important strategies and approaches. (Depending on the owner's sales and marketing expertise, a relationship with a marketing professional is highly advised. For more, see Small Business: It's All About Relationships.)

6. Create a Complementary Product or Service
Sometimes product development is like the ripple effect. The creation of one new product spurs the need for a whole new set of services and complementary accessories and items. By creating some of these items and offering these services, you can make yourself indispensable to all the individuals who buy the products and create the profits that make the big business "big". One example of this would be the rise in accessories to the many handheld electronic and phone devices currently on the market. Each time a new phone, tablet or laptop hits the market, new decorative carrying cases and screen protectors do too and they aren't all sold by the big business itself.

The Bottom Line
If you are in the same market as a big business, then you are competitors. But big businesses didn't gain their market shares by accident. Watch what the company does right and see if you can't match its attempts. Then, watch what they do wrong and figure out a way to fill those gaps. (Incorporating these steps will help your business thrive in a competitive market. For more, see In Small Business, Success Is Spelled With 5 "C's.")

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