I've spent the better part of my adult life (I know, I know, that still isn't that many years) working with small businesses to help them leverage the Internet in creative ways so they could compete with much larger competitors. One of the points I try to pound home again and again is you don't need more money, you just need to do it better. While it isn't an Internet marketing story per say, John Jantsch has an excellent post today that shares the story of a little company outlasting a global brand most small businesses would run in fear from.

You'll want to read the whole post, but here's a quick summary:

There is a small coffeehouse in Kansas City’s Westport District called the Broadway Cafe. Broadway is in all ways local. Lots of character and characters, a very sweet, personable owner, homegrown from the tile to the ceiling. About 10 years ago a storm surrounded the store when Starbucks announced the location of their first store in the Kansas City area would be right next door, like, sharing an internal wall next door.

John then links to a story from this week's Kansas City Star that reports:

Starbucks on Tuesday confirmed that it would close its store at 401 Westport Road in late winter.

Yep, after ten years of being side by side, the local place has stayed in business and Starbucks has chosen to close its doors.

Why? Well, I'm sure there are a lot of reasons, but I have no doubt one of them is the local community and their attachment to a business they see as one of their own.

This is exactly the type of thing your business should be working to do online. Whether it's via blogging, social media, viral marketing or simply through good content and good customer service, you need to be looking for the things that set you apart from your bigger competitors. Small businesses tend to have less money, but more flexibility. The companies that play that to their advantage often find themselves doing quite well. It's essential to connect with your local community, even if that community is virtual. Just look at Zappos and you'll see a perfect example of a company who should be struggling to survive against much larger competitors, but who does quite well based on the way they've treated consumers.

December 14, 2007

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


Jennifer, you point on flexibility is the key. Small businesses actually have an advantage over their larger corporate competitors. The answer is to not compete in the arena of price. Small businesses can win if they use their flexibility to compete in areas like customer intimacy; where larger businesses just can't fight.

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It's "per'se" not "per say" lol

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