Building Your Small Business Brand in a Big Urban Environment


Big cities are a blessing and a curse for small businesses. On one hand, you have millions of potential customers. On the other, you have dozens of competitors, all vying for the same slice of pie. To reach success as a small business in a big city, you have to think big on a small budget.

As always, marketing will play a huge role in deciding your fate. Building a small business brand in a big urban environment isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible, either. It just takes savvy decision-making, clever planning, and proper execution.

Read on to learn how to establish a small business brand in a big city:

Customer service comes first

Whether you’re running a bakery, comic book store, law firm, tech consultancy, or other, the fate of your business comes down to service. In a world full of flaky entrepreneurs and fly-by-night enterprise, being honest, reliable, and affordable is often all it takes to win the hearts and minds of consumers. With this in mind, start by focusing on the basics of good business and put the big brand-building moves on ice – for the time being.

Unconventional can be exceptional

City dwellers are no strangers to advertising. They see it on the subway, on the sides of buildings, and virtually everywhere there’s space to cram an ad. Taking this into account, consider unconventional ways to market and advertise. For instance, the side of a building – particularly one at an intersection – is prime real estate for inventive advertising. Do an online search for “chalk artists near me” and commission one to turn the outer walls and sidewalks into a vivid display highlighting your products and services. Such forms of unconventional urban advertising can break through the otherwise disciplined indifference of those conditioned to ignore advertising.

Carve out your niche

The honest truth about any small business in a big city is they’re either going to grow into a giant or thrive as a niche enterprise. With this in mind, consider carving out your niche as soon as possible. Doing so not only secures a relatively reliable core of regular customers, it establishes you as an authority in your field. That can lead to amplified attention paid to your brand.

Word-of-mouth works wonders

Ever notice the best restaurants in New York or L.A. don’t sink money into marketing and brand awareness, yet we all know about them? It’s a testament to the power of word-of-mouth advertising, something that doesn’t come easy but does come cheap. By providing exceptional customer service alongside a one-of-a-kind product or service, customers will go out and talk to others about your business. While it’s a slow way to spread the word, individual endorsements add up to significant brand awareness.

Zero-in on optimum opportunities

Let’s say you’re lucky enough – and/or savvy enough – to successfully generate significant business growth with minimal advertising. Now’s the time to sink some money into brand awareness – but in such a way that it’s cost-effective. With this in mind, seek out optimum opportunities where you find them. For instance, a barbershop or hair salon might capitalize on “No-Shave November” by initiating a small but noticeable ad campaign right before Black Friday.

Make the most of momentum

Small businesses in the big city can get thrust into the spotlight overnight. But that attention often leaves as fast as it came – leaving small business owners wondering where all the attention went. Rather than naively expect an article about your company in the Business Section of the New York Times to carry you indefinitely, use that momentum as a springboard for further brand-building.

Give geotargeting a try

We all know how often we use our mobile devices to find products and services. We also use them to look up local businesses. With this in mind, geotargeting is essential for any small business in the big city. Having nearby mobile users see your business name and logo appear when searching for relevant terms is key to growing your brand.

Running a small business in the big city is a mixed bag of ups and downs. You have plenty of people to sustain your company and potentially propel you into the big business range, but you also have established competition and immense pressure to get noticed. Doing so isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either.


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