What Small Businesses Can Learn from Corporate Marketing Tactics

Sarah Donawerth
Sarah Donawerth
What Small Businesses Can Learn from Corporate Marketing Tactics

Please welcome our guest author, Jori Hamilton!

Being a small business has a lot of advantages. You can operate more leanly, adjust to trends more quickly, and focus on your customers with a more personal touch.

However, standing out with your marketing is a bigger challenge for small companies than large ones. You simply don’t have the money to create large, flashy advertising campaigns.

What you might not realize is that there’s a lot you can learn from corporate marketing. It’s just not what you expect. What are the key takeaways from large brand marketing? Here’s what you need to know.

Sell a Lifestyle, Not a Product

One of the most successful companies in history when it comes to marketing is Apple. Their sleek, high-end products are legendary, of course, but what you might not realize is that those products are not the primary draw.

The primary pull for Apple customers is that they want to live the Apple brand lifestyle. There’s an entire ethos built around those products. People who use them feel like they belong to a tribe and are somehow superior to users of other products.

This is combined with the fact that Apple has built an entire ecosystem of products that all work together — but won’t interface with any other brand. Once someone commits to Apple products, that becomes their only choice.

As a small business, think about what you can do to create a lifestyle with your products or services. Create a story about who your ideal customer is and make that attractive so people aspire to it. Then expand your products to create an ecosystem of related offerings to encourage multiple purchases.


You might think of a major corporation as a faceless beast, but the best of them are actually highly personal to their customers. The relationships brands can build with consumers are essential to brand loyalty, referrals, and repeat business.

This is one area where a small company has a leg up on larger competitors. It’s easier for you to form one-on-one relationships with customers and share your message in a very personal way because there are fewer layers and less bureaucracy between a business owner and the consumer.

Take a page from a large company’s playbook and take advantage of software and automation to personalize your messaging and segment your audience. In this way, you can deliver the focused marketing you need quickly and easily.

Optimize Your Budget by Focusing on What Works

You might think of large companies as having bottomless pools of money, but this is far from the case. In fact, they often have more demands on their capital than a smaller competitor because they have more divisions and higher overhead.

As a result, you can learn a lot from corporations about saving money and optimizing your budget. One of the most critical steps to take with marketing is to test everything and cut whatever doesn’t work while focusing your investment on what does. Focus on social media marketing to maximize the bang for your buck.

There are many online marketing elements you can test, from headlines to calls-to-action and everything in between. Make one change at a time and try it out on your audience. See what they respond to, and then make one more change.

Over time, you’ll develop highly-optimized messaging and ads that will bring you maximum return on investment.

Connect Through Social Media

Millions of people use social media every day, and companies large and small have realized these platforms are essential for marketing success. By paying attention to how larger corporations connect with their audience, you can learn what to do for your business.

In social media marketing, engagement is the name of the game. When you have conversations with people, you gain loyalty and build relationships. Wendy’s Twitter account is an excellent example of this. They not only offer jokes at the expense of their competitors, but they also answer customer service questions and are quick to respond. Everything from a nice burn aimed at McDonald’s to an offer to fix an incorrect order is available any time.

Social media also allows you to run targeted ads inexpensively. From Instagram to Facebook, you can focus your ads on a very specific ideal audience. That means that the viewers and clicks you get are those who are most likely to respond to your offers.

Compare this targeted engagement with spending millions of dollars on a national television advertising campaign, and you can see that going small makes big sense for companies of any size.

Take Your Marketing Tips from Big Business

Being a small company doesn’t mean that your success or connection to your customers has to be minuscule. You can have just as much loyalty and growth as the big corporations. All you have to do is learn a few tips from their playbook.

From creating an aspirational lifestyle and ecosystem of products like Apple to personalizing and using social media like Wendy’s, there are many ways to make a big splash with your small business.

Test a variety of approaches and focus your budget on what works best. You’ll find yourself excelling in no time!

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity and several types of marketing strategies, including social media, influencer, and content marketing. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

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