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Four Marketing Differences between Small and Big Businesses

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Every marketing plan has to adopt the same marketing procedure, but the similarities between small business and large business marketing stop right there.

Budgets constraints, staffing, creative methods, and strategy vary enormously between a multinational mega-marketer like, say, Pepsi Co., and a relatively micro-budget marketer and business owner like, well, you and me.

1. Differences on Budget Constraints

In a small business, you already know one substantial difference between your marketing plan and those of the corporate titans that hover over you in every direction. These big guys have astronomical budgets. They talk about a few hundred thousand dollars as a routine issue. You talk about 200 dollars as an amount worthy of cautious consideration.

2. Differences on Staffing

Study the organization chart of any big corporation. Nearly always, you see a marketing vice president. Under that position you see a crowd of other professional careers, including advertising managers, sales directors, online marketing directors, research managers, customer service manager, and so forth. In contrast, small businesses combine marketing with the leadership role. The organization chart of a small business puts responsibility for marketing in the top box, where the business owner, in the essential role, manages the process of marketing as a hands-on task.

3. Differences on Creativity

The top notch marketers routinely require six figures to produce ads with the single purpose of establishing brand awareness and market orientation toward their brands – frequently without a single hint about a specific price or product.

Small businesses adopt a significantly different method. They need to establish brand awareness just like the big advertisers, but their advertisements have to fulfill two tasks. Small business marketing expenditure has to provide direct and measurable marketing action. Each action has to stir adequate buying activity to compensate the expenditure involved in producing and running the advertisement in the first place.

The balancing act is to produce consistency in your marketing communications process so that they establish distinct brand awareness while simultaneously inspiring the required consumer behavior to deliver sales – right now!

4. Differences on Strategy

In larger businesses, documents of business plans grace the bookshelves, whereas in many smaller businesses, the very term of marketing plan may give you a guilt pang.

The truth is making a marketing work plan is pretty simple and fairly manageable. If you spend a bit your time up front to design your annual marketing plan, then implementation of this plan becomes quite easy.

But without a proper marketing plan, you will spend this year racing around to deal with competitive actions, media opportunities and market conditions that may or may not match your present business expectations.

So what’s left for small businesses?

As the owner of a small business, you may envy the budget, organizations and people of the big business competitors, but being small has its own unique advantage too.

The executives of Fortune 500 companies allocate budgets equal to the GNP of small countries to conduct research to understand and know their buyers. Meanwhile, you are able to meet with your customers personally, every day, at virtually no extra cost at all.

Since the significant point of marketing process is to establish and sustain customer loyalty, it stands to reason that nothing is more adaptable, more resilient and more flexible than the small business.


  1. Chris Brooks says:

    Great post it may look like an overwhelming list full of brick walls, but just remember every business started small. Plus when you’re small you are able to focus your efforts. Big companies are more often than not stuck in their ways making it hard for them to keep pace with the changing consumer. Not being able to keep pace is a huge advantage for small business owners. Just remember be smart with your efforts and focus your resources.

  2. Best CSS Gallery says:

    Great article, and very inspiring. I prefer my business to be small, big businesses are bigger responsibility

  3. Marketing Man says:

    The marketing budget is often the first one that gets chopped when times are tough, regardless of the business being small or big. Bearing this in mind one has to be innovative and frugal with the marketing money, but neglecting marketing altogether is pretty much a guarantee of failure.

  4. used tires says:

    It really depends on the small business we are talking about though. Some small businesses run on nearly broke money from day to day, so they are not very flexible. Now… I would agree that the properly managed small business, is certainly adaptable and more flexible than a larger business.

    Till then,


  5. digital photo frame says:

    I thik you are right that small businesses which have the ability to manage in proper way can be beneficial more than larger businesses.

  6. Wayne Liew says:

    Another thing that small business owners should be proud is their flexibility to respond to different circumstances which can pose either a threat or an opportunity to their business. As compared to their larger counterparts that have a much taller structure, this is definitely a plus for small businesses.

  7. Cash Back says:

    Good points Yan. I have marketed both small and medium sized companies’ websites. There definitely are a lot of differences. With a small company you have to do everything through hard work, while with a larger company you can outsource a lot more. The small company typically has to wait much longer for results.

  8. Handmade jewellery says:

    How do I know if my business is small or big? My annual sales are about $160,000.

  9. Handmade jewellery says:

    Yeah they probably would, but it would also affect their employees because they would probably add more tax to their pay checks, and the stores might also make sales taxes more expensive. Well they probably can’t do that, but instead of raising sales taxes they would just increase the product cost.

  10. Handmade jewellery says:

    All the costs of running a business (big or small) are figured into the price of the product. For big businesses this includes those mega millions of dollars paid to chief executives each year as well as their golden parachute buy-outs at the end of their employment.

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