Small Businesses That Made It Big – Learn Their Marketing Secrets

In the world of business, marketing is everything. Mediocre products sell better than stellar products everyday due to great marketing ideas. While big businesses are able to exert endless resources to create the perfect marketing plans, small businesses understandably don’t have the same resources to rely on. So how does a small business grow? Some of the biggest and most popular brand names started off small, but by employing the right techniques grew to be giant corporations known all around the world. Here we take a look at how 3 small businesses grew exponentially due to creative marketing tactics. Plus, we provide important take-away tips you can apply to your small business.

Small Businesses That Became Big—How Did They Do It?

No one ever said being a small business owner is easy, in fact it includes a lot of hard work and carefully made decisions. Let downs are another unavoidable aspect of starting your own company, but don’t let the hardships get you down. Most of the big name brands you know started off as small shops that no one knew about. But with just the right tactics they were able to grow from one shop to global businesses, and you can too! To help inspire your journey to greatness, learn more about 3 big businesses that started off super small.

1. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

This family run business originated as a mom-and-pop coffee shop in Los Angeles, California. Herbert B. Hyman started the small business back in 1963 as a coffee delivery service for local offices. Today, they operate over 350 stores all throughout the US, and as far as Southeast Asia.

While Starbucks is seen as virtually ‘untouchable’ The Coffee Bean is recognized as one of their competitors. So how did they grow to such great heights? For one, Hyman was all about finding the best coffee beans and showing this off by allowing customers to see their origins before purchasing coffee.

Taking this unique approach and rapidly adding new coffee (and tea) items to their menu, The Coffee Bean continued to grow. In 1991 Starbucks saw the competition and offered to buy the brand up. Hyman said no, and continued to work his magic by offering exactly what customers were seeking, and what Starbucks didn’t offer.

In 1999 Coffee Bean became certified as an all kosher food and beverage source. This was genius because some of their key locations were in areas where many Orthodox Jews resided.  Although Hyman passed away earlier this year, his business continues to thrive thanks to his dedication to sticking by customer wants, and offering what others in the industry do not.

2. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream is a name we all know and love for their delicious flavors with quirky names, but once upon a time this brand wasn’t the household name it is today. Back in 1978, Ben and Jerry’s opened its first small shop in an old Vermont gas station.

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream proves it’s not all about print advertisements and mailers, but instead your customers are a HUGE marketing tool.  If people like your product and what you stand for, they are going to share it with others, allowing many small businesses to flourish into large companies. Since ice cream is not in short supply, the founding pair behind Ben and Jerry’s had to find a way to make themselves stand out to costumers.

So instead of just offering delicious ice cream with funky names, they also found a way to give back to the community by turning their parking lot into a drive in theater. Every summer they offered free movie nights once a week to go with their delicious iced treats. Once the business outgrew their original location, the founding pair continued to be involved with the community, putting on concerts, and funding other local events. They also supported their local community by purchasing all of their produce locally.

By associating themselves as a real part of the community they were able to establish a business people loved for more than one reason. Their light hearted and friendly approach certainly worked. After all, who doesn’t know what Chunky Monkey ice cream is? Thanks Ben and Jerry!

3. Wrigley Gum

The Wrigley brand proves you can never be afraid to try something new. When you hear the name Wrigley you likely think of chewing gum, after all that’s what they are best known for. Although the company’s humble origins were not based on chewing gum and breath mints.

William Wrigley Jr. founded the company in 1891 and sold soap products. When Mr. Wrigley realized baking powder was more popular he started to offer free baking powder with each soap purchase. Before long he was selling baking soda individually. Around the same time, chewing gum was gaining popularity, and so Wrigley decided to offer free chewing gum with each baking soda purchase. The rest is history.

Wrigley wasn’t afraid to try new things in order to keep up with the changing times. This allowed him to fashion a company that is still widely recognized, as well as profitable, well over 100-years later. Who really knows what would have happened if Wrigley only sold soap, but chances are we wouldn’t know about the brand today.

(Learn about others)

4 Important Take-Away Tips For Small Businesses Looking To Grow   

1.     Be Different

Do you research, find out what your competition are doing in every aspect of business, from marketing to sales, to costumer relations. Take this information and plan ways you can stand out as different, better. Being the same as everyone else isn’t going to get you the growth you desire, it’s all about offering something that your competition does not. Maybe that’s farm fresh produce grown locally, or a donation to a charity for every sale. Depending on your business and target audience the right way to diversify your business may vary. Look to William Wrigley as inspiration, you can’t be afraid to try new things based on what your target audience is ultimately seeking. If you remain unsure at first about something, try free samples and you never know where your business will take you!

2.     Don’t Limit Your Customer Base

If you own a small bakeshop it’s tempting to go with the norm and only sell your delicious pastries to the costumers that walk through your storefront door. But this isn’t enough if you want to grow your business. You need to find ways outside of the box to sell more baked goods. For instance, you can offer a great catering deal delivering treats every morning at a certain time to local businesses. Or, talk to local grocery stores about offering your products for sale in the baked goods section. If your product is truly good, people are going to want it, so don’t limit yourself to the traditional means of sales. The best way to grow your business is to take chances and try new things.

3.     Partner With The Big Guys

According to Forbes, a “whole product strategic partnership” can help your small business flourish at rapid rates. Small businesses typically only have the means to offer a part of a service. Say for instance if you sell software, you probably don’t have the means just yet to also offer the accompanying hardware or implementation services. In order to make life easier on your customers, you can team up with a bigger company in order to offer a more all-inclusive package.

For instance, Unidesk is a small virtual desktop management provider that was lucky enough to team up with Dell computers. The reason Dell agreed to team up with Unidesk is because they have a great product, but also because they offer $10 to Dell for every sale generated. This creates a win-win situation for both brands on so many different levels. Since Dell makes money off of every Unidesk sale, they are actively seeking better ways to market the product, meaning Unidesk has a lot more resources to utilize for successful marketing.

Of course, not every small company has the chance to team up with a well-known big name brand like Dell. Still, it’s important to keep a running list of companies you could team up with for mutual benefits.

It all sounds great, but at this point you might be wondering what’s in it for the big guy that takes you under their wing? If you do get the chance to present your case to a larger brand interested in your product or service, use your talk time wisely. You must find a way that your business benefits them. Unfortunately, when presented with this opportunity many small businesses blow it by focusing on how the big name brand can help them. Instead, you want to prove you can benefit their business just as much as they can benefit yours.

 4.     Establish An Online Presence

Back when Ben and Jerry’s and the Coffee Bean got their start computers were giant machines that only certain professionals had access to. Today, all of that has changed in our very digitally connected world. Having a functional, good looking website is adamant, so too is a social media presence. Continually sharing things that interest your followers, community, and the world at large could spur your company into viral territory with only a few clicks. When more people see your posts and online presence, more people know about your business.

Marketing is key to growing any business, but it’s not just about catchy ad campaigns. Catering to your customers, offering something uniquely different, forming the right partnerships, and marketing in a friendly way that people relate to are beneficial to growing any small business.

Need help creating a realistic marketing plan that helps your small business grow? Contact Contour Graphics today!