Do you know who your direct competition is? If you’re a small business purveyor of artisanal popcorn, you might think your direct competition is other popcorn providers — big or small. You might even consider only those in the same regional area as you as your direct competition. But what about other firms that provide salty snacks and movie fare? Or other local snack sellers? Your direct competition isn’t always obvious, and even when it is, it can be tough to compete. Once you’ve got all of your direct competition down, you can slowly start to create a plan to tackle and outperform your competitors.

Here are a few tips to help make this happen:

  • Provide amazing customer service. If there’s one place where small businesses have the upper hand, it’s the attention they can provide to each and every customer that walks in the door or clicks into your website. Making every customer feel like they’re your first and most important gives you the “personal touch” advantage over bigger companies and is a step in the right direction for repeat business.
  • Take advantage of technology. In today’s market, having a strong web presence is paramount, but it takes more than a website. With social media channels on Facebook and Twitter, you can tackle customer service quickly, giving you an edge against larger retailers that might not have the time and attention for each and every customer. When you do setup your website, provide e-commerce, provide a mobile website and be sure to keep dynamic, fresh content coming so that search engines will keep your website at the top. Also, spend some time figuring out how users are getting to your competitors’ websites to make sure you cover all of your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) bases.
  • Court your current customers. As a small business, you have the ability to pamper your current customers in a way that larger retailers simply don’t. Create rewards programs, special sales for repeat customers and run ambassador programs to use your current customers as brand evangelizers. Whereas large companies tend to see a faceless crowd of consumers, small businesses have the opportunity not only to acknowledge their consumers but to make them feel like royalty.
  • Know your niche and stick to it. Many companies take on more than they can handle after perfecting the art of a simple service or product. Small businesses that stick to what they know, what they’ve perfected, they have a greater chance at keeping their consumers. Everyone goes to Marco’s Taco Cart for lunch because he does tacos well, not because he offers a little bit of every cuisine. When a large retailer takes on every market, it becomes a jack of all trades and a master of none. Be the proud master of your niche, and your customers will take notice.

If you’re confident in your business and focus on personal service, you’ll have no problem taking on your direct competition. Know your niche, dive into the digital market and big retailers will have nothing on your small business!