10 Things Small Businesses Can Learn from Corporate Giants
It can be difficult being a small fish in a big ocean, so make sure you learn from the biggest and best...
Many small and medium-sized enterprises no doubt envy the success of global giants such as Apple and Google. Apple is one of the most popular brands in the world. Companies like these may seem in a totally different league from your average small business, but there are nevertheless valuable business lessons that smaller businesses can learn from these corporate giants.
Here are 10 things small businesses can learn from the major players.
1. Make customer service a priority
Apple has won praise for its quality of staff and efficiency of service. While your firm may not have the technology giant’s sizeable budget, remember always to treat your customers with respect, be polite and friendly, and listen to their concerns.
2. Get people talking about your products or services
Create a buzz in the media and among consumers when you’re planning to launch something new. Apple uses tactics such as television advertising, social media, teaser campaigns and press releases to get people excited about its latest tech.
3. If you enter a new market, adapt
Apple has faced tough competition ever since it entered the mass market and became less like an aspirational, luxury brand. SMEs that move into a new market can learn from Apple’s experience by making plans in advance to help them adapt to any changes.
4. Encourage customers to sample your products
Apple stores are known for being welcoming, friendly places in which people are encouraged to try the products, learn about them and ask questions. This technique is already used by many small and medium-sized businesses, such as bakeries and cheesemongers, who hand out food as ‘tasters’. Can this technique be utilised in your business, too?
5. Be social media savvy
Don’t be left behind in the world of online networking. Multi-nationals have pots of money set aside for their social media strategy because they recognise its usefulness in raising awareness about a brand and keeping consumers updated with developments. However, a considerably smaller budget is no excuse for SMEs not to effectively use platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to share news about the company and engage directly with customers. Furthermore, small and medium-sized businesses have the advantage of being more able to use social networking to respond to an individual’s query or complaint swiftly.
6. Seek ideas from a variety of sources
Speaking at an event staged by the High Growth Foundation, a Google representative urged businesses to open up their think tanks to include customers, suppliers, and all employees when seeking new ideas.
7. Innovate, then refine
An idea doesn’t have to start off perfect. Treat it as a seed which needs to grow and develop, and feel free to remould it repeatedly until it works.
8. Be imaginative with packaging and design
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was one of the first technology leaders to recognise the importance of design that has the ‘wow’ factor; his inspiration included Italian car finishes! So be prepared to think originally, and take risks in order to create products that will visually impress your customers.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for a higher price
It’s crucial to be competitive when it comes to pricing, but don’t cheapen your brand with a rock-bottom price tag. If you feel you offer a quality service or product, let the price reflect that, and explain your reasoning to prospective customers.
10. Build a fanbase
Big companies, like Apple, have a devoted band of followers who await the firm’s latest gadget with bated breath and eagerly snap it up the moment it hits the market. SMEs can set about gaining their own followers who are passionate about their products and services by making use of social media and creating a buzz.
So, rather than just admiring the global giants from afar, try incorporating some of their good practices into your own business.
Michael Palmer is an Oxford-based business graduate and writer on behalf of Christie & Co.