co How To Run With The Big Dogs... Even With An "Underdog" Marketing Budget! |

“How do I gain an advantage in my market when it seems like all of my competitors can outspend me by at least double or more?”

This is one of the main questions I hear from our customers and it’s something that businesses everywhere struggle with – not just small businesses, but any company that is not the leader in their category. (Think Pepsi or Burger King – both have large marketing and advertising budgets, but they are not the category leader, and they are routinely outspent by
their larger rivals).

In order to compete effectively, your marketing needs to be DIFFERENT and BETTER than your competition. By “better” I don’t mean that you need to spend a fortune on your advertising. You do need to reach your audience BETTER than your competition, and you can do that – even on a relatively small marketing budget.

Start by THINKING DIFFERENTLY – what ways can you market to your target customers or gain publicity that are DIFFERENT than other companies in your industry?

A locally-owned ice cream shop in Bloomington created a stir when they opened their location by sending a press release to just about every celebrity they could think of, announcing the opening of their new business. “Scoops” was overwhelmed by the responses they got from close to 400 “personalities” with autographed pictures inscribed with “good luck on your new venture” messages. The walls in their shop are adorned with these framed celebrity photos providing a great “buzz-factor” for a new, privately owned business.

A small lingerie company in New York didn’t have the budget to compete with their big-spending rival, Victoria’s Secret. They realized they needed to THINK DIFFERENTLY so they came up with a crafty marketing campaign. They couldn’t afford New York’s high media prices, so they stenciled their message (with environmentally-safe, washable paints) on sidewalks outside the convention center and other high-traffic areas:

“From here, it looks like you could use some new underwear.”

Risky? Yes. Edgy? You bet. Did it work? Absolutely! Not only did consumers see it, but the press noticed it and hundreds of articles were written all over the world about Bamboo Lingerie. You just can’t buy publicity like that!

It’s not enough to just “be different” though – you need to reach your customers BETTER than your competition too.

A small bank was looking for ways to attract new customers. They realized the impact that the fear of identity theft was having, with lots of stories in the media, bills before congress, newspaper articles and television commercials all talking about “identity theft.”

They capitalized on this ongoing discussion by hosting a “shredding event” at their local branch banks. Customers were invited to bring in all of their old bank, credit card and utility statements and have them shredded while they watched, protecting their identity while learning about the bank and it’s services.

They partnered with a local office supply company to bring in shredding machines, and a local restaurant to cater the event. They issued press releases to the newspapers and handed out flyers to their existing customers. Once word got out about the event, the local newspaper ran a story about the event and the local news station did a spot on it as well.

For the cost of a few hundred flyers and a press release, the bank earned tremendous goodwill with the community, got great coverage in the newspaper and television and increased their new customer sign-ups that month by over 50%!

Start thinking today of ways that YOU can market DIFFERENTLY and BETTER than your competition, and run with the big dogs…even without a huge marketing budget!