Don’t Compare Yourself To A Big Brand When You Aren’t

brand comparison, apple and orange
Comparing your business to a big brand is like comparing apples and oranges. Image courtesy of Suvro Datta at

I was watching the BBC’s Apprentice when Lord Sugar said something interesting, “sole traders are the backbone of the UK economy”. He was saying this in relation to a contestant who he felt hadn’t a potential business that would be big enough for him, but still the candidate was good at running their own small business.

Relating This To Digital Marketing

This is actually a problem that is often experienced, but not talked about, in digital marketing. Many small businesses, which in their own right are perfectly acceptable as they are, try to compare themselves to a big brand in the market.

For example, I’ve seen small businesses like corner shops consider their social media strategy on the same level as a multinational brand like Asda or Tesco. This seems almost ridiculous. A little corner shop has nowhere near the competitive power or resources of Tesco, who spends over £117 million a year on advertising.

It’s like a non-league football team comparing itself to a Premiership side like Tottenham Hotspur. If they actually went head-to-head, the premier league team would probably record a landslide victory and the non-league team might be dealt a serious morale blow.

Why Digital Marketing Is Similar

So why do small businesses convince themselves that they can be exactly like major players in the industry?

The simplest answer is that with digital marketing, it seems as though all participants have been given the same chance. This is a wrong assumption. While everyone has the same online access to the tools; behind the scenes there are significant differences. An organisation like Tesco will have a social media and digital marketing team but you will have to fit this responsibility in whenever you have time or assign the responsibility to someone who probably has many other duties.

Secondly, their team will consist of trained digital marketing experts; people who have spent years learning the best techniques to gain maximum exposure. You’ll likely have read a few tips online or in a book that will help, but this will not be the same as experience and training.

Finally, Tesco and large brands across many different industries have been running their digital marketing campaigns for years. Digital marketing does take time to get started. There is no magic pill for your small business to take and suddenly you are famous across social media or the internet. Take Tesco for example on Twitter; they have 250,000 followers and 740,000 tweets. To get to this level of content published on Twitter it would take 308 days at maximum tweeting levels.

You can help and you can support your digital marketing efforts – but you can’t force your target audience to read and share your content. Nor can you break Twitter terms and conditions without being sent to Twitter Jail.

Achieving A Return On Your Digital Marketing Efforts

Often it can take 6 or 12 months to see returns on your digital marketing campaigns. And you can never guarantee the results will be the same as a brand like Tesco. Nor do you want them to be.

As a small business you have opportunities bigger brands don’t have. You can be more personal to a small audience and achieve greater brand awareness locally. Likewise, you can get to know your target audience better so you can assess and supply their desires and needs. Finally, your ROI should be much better; you’ll have no staff costs, limited digital marketing production costs and most of your content should be audience focused.

What Is The Main Lesson From Comparing Your Business To A Big Brand?

The lesson to be learnt from this is more of mental focus than practical.

You have to possess the right mindset to achieve digital marketing success. Consider your position in the marketplace and then set realistic expectations, play to your strengths and be proud of what you are and what you can achieve.

Don’t be looking at the big brands to compare your digital marketing endeavours, consider those who are slightly larger than you. This way, you will be striving to achieve something possible.