How to compete with the big guys, with less resources (B2B)

As a small or mid-market company, finding growth in the proverbial sea of multi-billion dollar Goliaths isn’t always easy. Not only do you have to pay more for insurance, work with a smaller R&D budget, fend off massive competitors looking to consume your field with M&A and roll-outs, and navigate the increasingly complex world of regulations without a robust in-house team of lawyers and strategists — but finding and acquiring leads is often more expensive, time-consuming, and headache-inducting. How do you compete? Is it even possible?

After all, your larger competitors have a bigger brand, more money, and more employees. Winning seems impossible, right?

Despite the uphill battle, you actually have a few advantages over the big brands. And finding growth in your market often requires leveraging those advantages to earn huge wins. Here are 4 ways the small and mid-market can stand their ground against their larger competitors.

#1 Use A Lean Marketing Agency

Chances are, your small business will lean into an outsourced marketing agency to help you execute campaigns at scale. The average marketing manager will cost you around $107,000 per year. And each marketing pro you add to the list will cost you another $40,000 – $70,000. On top of that, you need to account for hiring costs, benefits, training, software, and the other smorgasbord of requirements that come with creating a hyper-effective marketing team. Even then, many large companies still partner with agencies to get an outside perspective. Generally, marketing agencies and small/mid-market companies go hand-in-hand.

But be careful with your agency choice. It can make or break your entire marketing strategy, budget, and scale. In general, you should choose an agency that:

  • Understand short-term and long-term campaigns, and uses their talents to help you scale out results instead of throwing your money into the never-ending wall of ads.
  • Doesn’t automatically throw any current strategies out of the window; they should glean data from existing campaigns, leverage that data to make impactful changes, and repurpose creatives to build out your content funnel.
  • Is capable of showing results via metrics, helping you understand those results, and using those results to forecast future earnings and potential.
  • Uses niche experts and ROI-intensive channels instead of huge ad agencies and expensive creatives.

In other words, choose an agency that understands what it means to be in the small or mid-market, has the skills to leverage your strengths, and knows the challenges you face on a daily basis.

#2 Demand Gen > Lead Gen

The single biggest marketing and sales misconception is that leads are equal to growth. They’re not. In fact, overvaluing leads can lead to serious problems. Unfortunately, 45 percent of B2B companies still measure success via lead-based quotas. But things are changing. The other 54 percent are measuring success via revenue, and the B2B marketing and sales space is slowly crawling out of the lead-induced frenzy of the mid-2000s. Throwing money away on low-quality top-of-funnel leads isn’t smart; it’s detrimental.

But the industry still has a long way to go. A mere 2 percent of B2B organizations commit to awareness-oriented top-of-funnel content strategies. Yet, 78 percent of marketers admit their demand-gen budget will grow in 2021. Don’t spend your time and energy chasing leads. Instead, focus on generating interest, awareness, and conversations around your brand. Leads are a natural byproduct of this interest. If you simply chase dead-end leads, you’re not actually growing revenue. You’re simply picking needles out of haystacks. You want to build your own needle factory.

To put it another way, interest generates leads. If it doesn’t, you have an issue with your branding, product, service, or pricing — which you need to know. Chasing down leads and putting them through the nurturing gauntlet may score a few quick wins. But it won’t create steady, long-term growth. There’s a reason 93 percent of B2B marketers admit content marketing provides more leads than ads or other traditional marketing strategies. It generates interest, and it treats customers like human beings. Give them awareness, present the best version of yourself, and let them make the right decision.

#3 Recognize the Value of Both Short-term vs. Long-term Goals

There are short-term marketing goals and long-term marketing goals — and both are equally important. Pay-per-click ads focused on “hand-raisers” (i.e., prospects who hand-deliver their contact information and browsing habits to you) can help you quickly convert action-ready customers. Long-term strategies involving branding, content, funnel optimization, omnichannel, and PEO can bring in long-term revenue and consistency. But you can’t forgo one to focus on the other.

As a small company, you can’t ignore the hand-raisers. You need money now. And, the more conversions you get, the bigger your long-term marketing budget can grow. But you’ll never compete with the big brands if you don’t focus on the long-term. In other words, find the right mix.

#4 Use Automation

As a small brand, you can’t afford to manually execute every marketing task. It’s simply not possible. And even if it was — and you had a team of hyper-grinding superstars — why would you want to? But plenty of small businesses also fall into the automation trap. Yes. Automation is amazing. But it can also be detrimental to your campaigns. For example, automating all of your emails probably isn’t a good idea. High-value prospects will notice the non-personable nature of your emails, and they may feel like they’re talking to a robot — not a person.

On the other hand, it doesn’t make sense to manually construct all of your emails for low-value leads and prospects. So, automation is about finding the right balance. Leverage your capable sales and marketing touch for high-value targets, and use automation for lower value or non-nurtured leads.

T.A. Monroe Understands the Small and Mid-market

Small businesses have their own challenges. But they also have strengths. They can play on their small size and hyper-focused core to drive significant value and early growth. At T.A. Monroe, we work with small businesses to help them maximize the value of their marketing campaigns without draining their life savings. Contact us to learn more.

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