Large Brands vs Small Brands: Marketing Wins and Fails

In the vast landscape of marketing, the strategies employed by brands of different sizes can vary significantly. While larger brands often allocate their resources strategically, focusing on specific goals and leveraging influencer collaborations and press coverage around key, considered times. Smaller businesses tend to rely on consistent drum beat marketing. In this article, we’ll delve into the contrasting approaches of larger and smaller brands, highlighting their distinct methods, challenges, and the lessons that can be learned from each.

1. The Yearly Plan: Peaks and Drum Beat Marketing:

Large brands adopt a structured approach, allocating their energy, budget, and resources around important milestones such as product launches, seasonal sales peaks, or expansion into new markets. This focused approach allows them to work creatively and thoughtfully, collaborating with influential figures and seeking press coverage to amplify their campaigns. Outside of these peak periods, they maintain a steady drum beat marketing strategy, providing an engaging overall customer experience and driving ongoing sales.

On the other hand, smaller businesses, lacking dedicated marketing teams, often rely solely on drum beat marketing. They establish a fixed monthly marketing budget and adhere to it consistently, irrespective of seasonal variations. This approach ensures a continuous presence but may lack the impact and dynamism of targeted campaigns.

Ultimately, by spreading the marketing budget out consistently instead of in peaks and troughs, it’s going to be performing badly at least some of the time. Why have an advertising budget at all for periods where you know you don’t make many sales?

2. The Pitfalls of Reactive Marketing:

Smaller brands sometimes fall into the trap of reactive marketing, chasing every social media trend, viral craze, or “awareness day” without a clear strategy. This can dilute their brand message and make them indistinguishable from competitors. Lack of strategy = tepid messaging. 

However, being somewhat reactive is important too, and this is something larger businesses struggle with. Large budgets, long time scales and larger teams ultimately mean that content can’t get approval fast enough to be truly reactive. Somewhere, sacrifices need to be made to make sure that the content isn’t so perfect that it looks out of place on social and more like it belongs in an Argos catalogue. 

Case Study: The Power of Purposeful Campaigns

Working with a recent client, I discovered the importance of crafting well-thought-out campaigns. Instead of sporadic Instagram posts which lack meaningful data, we developed a sturdy women’s health campaign centered around a non-flagship product. While the campaign’s success remains uncertain, its focus on generating measurable data and insights is invaluable. We’ll know for sure whether the product and its potential market has legs and will even be able to pass on our findings to retailers. Their aim is to grow from a reasonably sized customer goods brand into a much larger one. There’s no reason why they can’t become a house hold name product with their dedication to strategy and data. 

3. Embracing Resellers: Collaborating for Success:

Large businesses recognise the immense value of resellers and prioritise collaborations with them. By providing marketing materials, in-store sales support, and online content, these brands empower their resellers to drive significant sales. They understand that B2C sales through resellers often surpass direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales, making them an integral part of the profit equation.

In contrast, smaller businesses may perceive resellers as competition or view a sale to a reseller as the endpoint of their responsibility. However, considering the retailer’s ability to move stock and actively supporting them can result in stronger partnerships and increased brand exposure. 💃

4. Small = Authentic

Smaller brands have their own advantages that can be harnessed to drive success. And there are plenty of small businesses and sole traders who absolutely kill the game and dominate on socials. The very essence of being a small brand often resonates with customers who appreciate the personalized touch and authenticity that comes with it. Leveraging their size, smaller brands can create meaningful connections with customers by sharing stories about the owners, offering glimpses behind the scenes, and highlighting products made in ethical or artisanal ways.

By showcasing the people, passion, and purpose behind their brand, smaller businesses can establish a deeper level of authenticity. This approach fosters a sense of trust and loyalty among customers who value transparency and a connection with the makers of the products they love. Through social media and content marketing, smaller brands can engage their audience in a more intimate and meaningful way, amplifying their unique selling proposition.

The key to success lies in striking a balance between the strategic mindset of larger brands and the inherent advantages of smaller ones.

By blending big brand strategies, such as targeted campaigns and reseller collaborations, with the homeliness and authenticity that smaller brands can provide, businesses can create a powerful marketing approach. This harmonious blend of strategy and authenticity positions small brands for success, capturing the attention and loyalty of customers seeking a more personal connection with the brands they support.

Large brands have mastered the art of marketing by implementing effective strategies, focusing on peak periods, and collaborating with resellers to drive sales. However, smaller brands possess a unique advantage—the ability to cultivate authenticity and establish meaningful connections with customers. By embracing their small size and sharing the stories behind their brand, smaller businesses can create an authentic and relatable presence in the market. By blending the best of both worlds—big brand strategies and small brand authenticity—small businesses can carve out a successful niche, resonating with customers who seek genuine connections and ethical, artisanal products.

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