Stop marketing like big brands if you are not one

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stop marketing like big brands

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Are you looking for marketing inspiration from big brands like Nike, Apple, McDonald’s or Coca-Cola?

You really shouldn’t.

Large corporations have a very different agenda when it comes to marketing than small businesses do. Their goals differ from yours significantly.

Their goal is to reach billions of people via mass marketing or through ‘branding’. The goal of this type of advertising is to stay on top of your prospects’ minds.

This type of marketing is effective, but also very expensive to execute successfully. But big companies have the marketing budget to do it.

It requires you to saturate various types of traditional and digital media on a regular basis and over an extended period of time.

When small businesses try to imitate the big brands in terms of marketing strategy, it doesn’t work.

Their few social media ads to ‘create brand awareness’ is like a drop in the ocean. It is nowhere near enough to reach the consciousness of their target market, who are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages each day.

When small businesses do mass media marketing, it is very likely that they fail because they don’t have the budget to run their ads in sufficient volume to make them effective.

So unless you have millions of dollars to spend on advertising, you are very likely to fail with marketing.

The biggest small business marketing mistake

Most of the small business marketing is boring, ineffective and vague. You could summarise the most ads from small business as follows:

  • Company name
  • Company logo
  • A list of services offered
  • Claims best quality, best service or best prices
  • Contact details
  • Direct call to action: Buy Now or Contact Today

Does this work?

Well, sometimes it does, but only by accident. Every now and then they might come across a lead or a sale. If it didn’t work, then nobody would ever advertise.

They keep doing it because while advertising costs them more money than makes, they are afraid of not running it because it has worked a few times and who knows – next week it may bring in that big sale they have been waiting for.

What small to medium-sized business marketing should look like

If you are running a startup or small to medium-sized business, you need to make sure that your marketing message:

  • Targets a specific audience or niche. Not everyone is your customer.
  • Focusses on their specific problems, fears, interests and frustrations. If your message is vague, it gets lost.
  • Is measurable: With digital marketing, you can track which channel and ads are working the best for you.
  • Is written using compelling headlines and sales copy. If your message fails to grab their attention, you will lose them – potentially forever.
  • Has an irresistible offer. You should create an offer that is valuable for your customers. It should focus on your customer’s pain points.
  • Demands a response. Also known as ‘call to action’, you need to compel your prospect to do something specific. Whether it is to download a free guide, request a free quote or to call you


Marketing like big companies doesn’t work for small businesses because the goal of mass marketing is to reach as many people as possible, regardless of whether they are interested or not. 

Small business marketing strategy has to be geared towards a specific audience or niche. It’s about focusing your marketing efforts on the audience that are most likely to respond.

If you need help with a marketing strategy, feel free to contact me here.

Or if you aren’t quite ready to get in touch with me yet, you might like my newsletter. It’s called AdNotes and it is for business owners who love marketing but hate the jargon. Check it out here.