You’ve been enjoying a nice run as a small, independent retailer, specializing in out-of-the-ordinary items that sell very well for you. But then here comes Wal-Mart, or Office Max, or Bed Bath & Beyond, or Kroger or…. you get the idea. The Big Box guys seem to be opening everywhere and horning in on what you’ve been able to build for the last few years.
A good example of this is Kroger, the supermarket chain that has recently started offering natural food in half its stores and designating special isles as “Nature’s Market”. So what are you, as a specialty retailer, going to do to stay in business and maintain any dominance in your market?
Your first thought might be to lower prices just to be able to compete with the big boys. But that’s kinda like taking a Swiss army knife to the gunfight at the OK Coral. You can’t compete with the big guys on price. Forget it! There are, however, some things you can do to maintain your position in the market. Here’s 5 things you can do to remain firm, and even possibly gain when you’re forced to take on the big boys:
- Use social media locally. These big guys typically do a terrible job with their social media profiles in the local markets. You can do better. Ramp up your work on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter. And if you’re a B2B business, add Linkedin to that list.
- Local blogging.Big Box companies don’t usually have blogs, and if they do they don’t spend any time with local issues. If you frequently blog about local interests that your customers care about, you’ll go a long way to getting great results from local online searches. Your message to your customers is that they need more information about your products and services, not less.
- Support your local community.The Big Box guys are usually very slow at supporting the local markets. Since you’re a local, just pay attention to what’s going on in the community and join some of the local organizations that target the folks who would normally buy your products and services. By supporting these organizations you’ll be endeared among your target market.
- Stay positive.Don’t cut down the big boys in front of your customers, or your staff. Just point out the differences between your competing products in a positive way. Say something like “We use ingredients from right here in the area and have been providing healthy products for the last 20 years.” Don’t bash the competition’s products!
- Size is your friend.Everything you see on a shelf of a Big Box store had to be approved by a national buyer. You, on the other hand, can begin selling a new product as soon as you see it and realize it’s just what your customer would like. You can continue to specialize in what helped build your business.
About the Author
Gordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach and Copywriter who helps clients become exceptional companies. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 39 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.