Five Differences between Marketing a Local Company vs. a National Chain

National chains do everything they can to overcome any competition, and small businesses may suffer because of it. However, small, local businesses have several advantages over big chains. Here are five differences between national and local marketing strategies.

Social Media

In general, large chains don’t use social media to their advantage. A small business can use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest to create local engagement with its customers. Posts and updates can relate to local celebrations, sporting events and other activities customers participate in. The business can use social media to create buzz about the business. Big businesses use social media as well, but they usually can't be as pro-active about answering individual comments and concerns posted on the page.


Everybody loves promotional items in Kansas City, for example, and it is easier for a local company to distribute these promotional giveaways. Promotional products, which can feature a company’s name, logo or other information, can also be more personal when they are offered by a local business, because a large chain will need to make them more generic to appeal to people throughout the country. For example, local Kansas City businesses could distribute soccer balls that are imprinted with their logo, since most of the locals support Kansas City’s team.

Support or Sponsor Local Causes

Since small business owners usually live in the locality, it is much easier for them to support or sponsor local causes connected to community events and fundraisers. The attendees can become loyal customers. This is a good way to endear a small business brand to the local community. Owners should become familiar with the local events calendar and even spearhead civic-minded activities. National chains may not be able to do this quickly and effectively.

Small Is Big

Instead of bashing the national chain to customers or employees, try pointing out the differences in a positive light. Focus on locally sourced produce, a broader range of selections or personalized customer service. Customers are often drawn to a business with a positive attitude. The large chains may advertise good customer service, but may not be able to be sure the thousands of employees are actually giving it. Customers will also be naturally drawn to a company with similar values. If you support local causes and charities, locals will be more likely to support you in return.

Be Flexible

Small, local businesses have the ability to adapt and adjust quickly to market changes. If the government issues new rules and regulations connected with a specific enterprise, small businesses can more easily adapt to them and continue to serve customers in basically the way they always have. A national chain will create policy, and the customer may have no recourse to get what they need.


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