Small Businesses: Strategies and Initiatives for Positioning and Branding

Small Businesses: Strategies and Initiatives for Positioning and Branding

Pratap Chandra Mandal (Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, India)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/IJBSA.2020070102

Abstract

Positioning and branding in the minds of the target market are imperative for any company. Small businesses find it challenging because of limited resources and budgets. Small businesses adopt a number of innovative ideas and initiatives to develop and build their brands. They focus on finding a compelling product and improving its performance, establishing brands with limited associations, and providing product and service trials for customers. They use the internet optimally to do digital communication and depend on word of mouth and buzz marketing to do cost-effective communications. They develop an integrated set of brand elements and leverage secondary brand associations. They utilize their scarce resources optimally, conduct cost-effective marketing research to analyze their customers, and focus on concentrated marketing. All these strategies and initiatives help small businesses to position and establish their brands in the minds of the target market.
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1. Introduction

A company cannot establish its products and services in the market if its offerings are not differentiated from that of its competitors (Ma & Wooton, 2020). The products and services offered should satisfy the requirements and preferences of target markets. A company or a brand should occupy a unique position in the minds of the target market and in the marketplace (Kostelijk & Alsem, 2020). To occupy a unique brand position, companies should understand their customers well. Companies should be aware of customer needs, wants, and values. They should also be aware of their own capabilities and competitor actions. A unique brand positioning is created only when company capabilities match with customer requirements (Klein, Völckner, Bruno, Sattler, & Bruno, 2019). This requires disciplined but creative thinking.

Small businesses are defined by U.S. Small Business Administration as those businesses which employee less than 500 individuals (SBA, 2014). Small businesses are characterized with limited resources and budgets. Limited resources and budgets are the two major constraints which restrict small businesses from building and establishing their brands (Odoom & Agyeman, 2019). Nevertheless, small businesses develop strategies to build their businesses especially from scratch to become powerhouse brands. Small businesses focus on the specific requirements and daily lifestyles of customers so that their offerings may fit into customer’s everyday lives (Vance, 2012). Small businesses have limited resources and should utilize those limited resources optimally (Etim, 2020). They also need to be focused and consistent in designing and implementing marketing programs. Small businesses also require to be creative. Small businesses require implementing new and innovative ideas to market their offerings to customers (Mazzarol & Reboud, 2020). Small businesses play an important role in the present-day business environment. So, it is important to study the various aspects of small businesses.

The broad objectives of the study are to discuss the unique characteristics of small businesses that identify these types of businesses from other businesses and to identify the strategies and initiatives adopted by small businesses to build and develop their brands.

The methodology adopted is the qualitative analysis of the latest and the relevant literature related to small businesses. The study tries to identify the unique characteristics of small businesses and the analysis of the various strategies and initiatives of small businesses for positioning and branding.

The contribution and novelty of the study lie in the fact that a detailed qualitative and conceptual study of the characteristics of small businesses and the specific strategies adopted by small businesses to achieve business excellence was discussed. The study provides a critical review of the literature on the topic. Both marketers and researchers will benefit from the discussions. The benefits to marketers and researchers are highlighted in sub-section 12.1 which focuses on managerial implications of the study.

The paper is structured as follows:

Section 2 focuses on the offerings of small businesses and their performances. Small businesses require establishing brands with limited brand associations and this aspect is discussed in section 3. Small businesses offer trials for products and services by customers and it is discussed in section 4. Section 5 discusses about the usage of the internet in digital communications. Section 6 focuses on the effectiveness of word of mouth marketing and buzz marketing in promotions of offerings. Small businesses should have an integrated set of brand elements and this aspect is discussed in section 7. Small businesses should leverage secondary brand associations which is discussed in section 8. Section 9 focuses on the important aspect of scarcity of resources and the need for optimal utilization of resources. Small businesses conduct cost-effective marketing research to generate customer insights and perform concentrated marketing and these aspects are discussed in sections 10 and 11 respectively. Section 12 discusses the global reflections of the study with sub-section 12.1 focusing on managerial implications of the study and sub-section 12.2 focusing on the limitations of the study and avenues of future research.

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