As any marketing professional will tell you, customer perception is extremely important to a company’s brand, profitability and growth potential. From the smallest mom-and-pop to the largest national retailer, businesses devote significant time and brainpower to crafting their public image and understanding the preferences of their ideal customer. That said, many SMBs lack the financial resources they need to conduct sweeping market research that can help shape their advertising, sales and customer service practices. Luckily, there is a surplus of information about how a company’s size influences the path to purchase for end consumers, which can meaningfully support both online and offline marketing activities.
Local vs. National Companies
Believe it or not, smaller companies actually have a leg up with consumers compared to their corporate counterparts. According to a 2017 Gallup survey, close to 70% of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in small, local businesses. This is nearly three times the confidence rating given to large enterprises, which stood around 21% on average.
For the most part, this disparity is nothing new – U.S. consumers have historically distrusted big business, with Gallup noting a peak confidence rating of 30% back in 1998 and 1999. However, it’s important to note that these generalizations do not reflect consumers’ support for popular brands, such as Apple, Amazon and other companies that have established themselves in the realm of pop culture.
Diving a bit deeper into Gallup’s survey, the polling firm found that consumers’ support for small business largely stems from personal beliefs, attitudes and experiences. For example, around 29% of respondents who had a “great deal” of confidence in smaller companies believe that local businesses are the “backbone of America” and “exemplify the American dream.” Furthermore, around one in three felt that small business owners are “personally invested” and “directly accountable” to their customers.
On the flip side, national companies are often seen as disconnected and less concerned with maintaining the quality of their products and services. The stereotypical corporate persona is focused on increasing profitability and meeting the expectations of investors and shareholders, which often casts a negative shadow on their business practices.
Balancing Consumer Perceptions
Gallup’s survey is further substantiated by a comprehensive study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, which discovered that a company’s “size and power” creates meaning for consumers that can set specific expectations and impact their purchase decisions. Capitalizing on this trend, however, is a whole different story.
For one, large companies are usually able to deliver lower costs and higher efficiencies compared to their smaller competitors. Unsurprisingly, customers looking to save big on products and services often lean toward big business, whereas smaller companies tend to attract consumers who want a more personal shopping experience.
The trick to maximizing inbound leads and sales conversions is to find a happy medium on the consumer perception spectrum, rather than doubling down on a big or small business persona. But how can companies maximize their appeal without negatively impacting their established brands?
Quality Service Outperforms Flashy Branding
Regardless of how large or small a company may be, credibility and reputation are essential to achieving the profitable outcomes business leaders are aiming for – but a company’s public image doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The rise of the internet and social media has given consumers the opportunity to share their experiences and opinions to massive online audiences. As a result, businesses of all sizes have struggled to curate customer perceptions and build the sort of solid reputation that will support their continued growth. Furthermore, organizations that focus too heavily on flashy advertising campaigns and reputation management often forget an important rule of business: customer satisfaction trumps all.
According to research from Microsoft, around 96% of consumers around the world believe that customer service plays a crucial role in their purchase decisions and loyalty to a brand. While this isn’t a groundbreaking revelation, it does illustrate the importance of relationship building during every phase of the buying cycle, from first contact to the point of purchase and beyond. Companies that focus on improving consumer interactions are often better equipped to meet their customers’ expectations and adapt to shifting preferences. Of course, having the right communication tools in place can be a huge value add for both local and national companies.
Small, local businesses looking to capitalize on positive consumer confidence can maximize their efforts by integrating advanced phone solutions, such as call tracking, intelligent routing, data integration and lead generation tools. Securing a memorable toll-free 800 number can also add a personalized touch and help companies distinguish themselves from the competition. While it’s likely most national corporations already have these features at their disposal, the right platform can make a world of difference.
For over 25 years, Dial800 has been on the frontlines of inbound call marketing. We are focused on delivering the customizable business phone solutions our clients need to attract high-quality leads, increase conversions and exceed their customers’ expectations. To learn how we can help your small or large business capitalize on consumer preferences, check out our informative blog or reach out to a representative today.