4 Unusual Ways Small Companies Can Compete With The Fortune 500

A £1.99 domain is all it takes to turn an idea into reality, and a company into fruition.

It’s a nice thought, right?

The old interweb has made it possible for everyone to start a revolution from their bed. Unfortunately, in reality, it’s not that easy. Only a small number of businesses make it past the first 5 years, and less go on to create multi-million-pound empires.

As much as the internet has helped the average-joe create an online presence, it’s helped conglomerates 10-fold. It’s gifted them the power of world domination, and they have the money to crush anyone in their way.

However, on that pessimistic note, I’m going to make a complete u-turn and say this definitely isn’t the case. Small businesses can compete with giants, they just need the right approach.

Sure, big companies can crush small businesses who tackle them head-on, but that’s not the trick. This blog covers 4 tactics small businesses can adopt to peel market share away from the world’s biggest companies.

1. The PPC Hack

Search campaigns are the bread and butter for a lot of B2B lead generation activity. In fact, 65% of searchers who have high commercial intent click on paid search ads first.

What’s not to like?

The problem is, as it’s such a powerful sales medium, large B2B players dominate paid rankings, and have daily budgets which eclipse smaller companies yearly marketing spend.

So how can you compete in AdWords? The answer is, you don’t (in most cases).

Over 61% of Adwords spend is wasted on keywords that don’t convert, and only 6% of keywords generate the majority of your results.

This first thing you need to do – find that 6%

The best way to do this is by working out which keywords your competitors are bidding the most money on and optimising your campaigns around those keywords. For example, a Software company may look at creating a campaign to sell their Capacity Management software.

Instead of creating a campaign with hundreds of loosely related keywords, they do keyword research into the most expensive keywords in their industry.

As you can see, there are some very pricey keywords in the above list. A price-tag large enough to scare away a lot of small companies.

But it’s important to remember one thing:

If the cost is high, the reward is high.

It’s likely the term IT Service Management (£61) will convert more users to leads than system capacity management (£41). I know this because big companies with massive PPC budgets have already discovered the profitable keywords and smartly bid more to secure the top spot for these keywords.

Therefore, the more expensive the ‘suggested bid’, the higher the purchase intent of the keyword. Think about it, even if you end up spending £1000 acquiring a new client, if the lifetime-value (LTV) of that client is £100,000 – then who’s the real winner?


Better still, Google has made it possible for you to pay LESS than your large competitors and still rank HIGHER. This is determined by Google’s quality score:

If you:

  1. focus your PPC ads on generating high click-through rates, and
  2. optimise landing pages for high engagement rates,

you have a great chance to boost quality score and therefore pay less to secure a top Google spot for a fraction of the suggested price.

While big companies are managing large AdWord portfolios, with thousands of keywords, you can slowly but surely, bleed their PPC market share using profitable keywords, at a fraction of the cost.

2. Mind the SEO gap

Unlike AdWords, it’s tough to rank at the top of Google for highly competitive organic keywords, especially if you are a new company. Big websites have spent years and a whole lot of money boosting their domain authority and link portfolio to securing high rankings for common terms.

Take a look a the term LinkedIn Marketing Strategy:

The top spots are dominated by massive websites like The Huffington Post, Kissmetrics and Hubspot.

Using a tool like SEMrush we can see that The Huffington Post has a domain score of 79/100 and trust score of 82/100.

That’s going to take some beating.

Sure, there are ways we can outrank them in the long run, but it’s not always the most profitable approach. Instead, we can uncover long-tail keywords which have lower search volume and less competition, but higher purchase intent.

I call this The SEO Gap.

Long-tail keywords account for over 70% of all search queries, meaning there are a lot of traffic opportunities out there.

More importantly, long-tail keywords convert up to 36% of traffic, compared to the industry standard of 2%.

Not bad.

So how do you find these long-tail gems?

One method is by looking at the bottom of the search result pages. If you scroll to the bottom of the search for LinkedIn Marketing Strategy, you’ll find related long-tail variations that people are already searching for.

This list is gold, as it shows you all the long-tail queries previous users have already searched for.

If you click on Linkedin b2b marketing best practices, you’re left with some very different results than the previous search:

The top result is a much smaller blog than LinkedIn or The Huffington Post. In fact, if we check SEMrush, Oktopost has a domain score of 34.

This is very different to The Huffington Post’s score of 79, yet it still ranks at the top for a relevant search query.

Good work, Oktopost!

If you’re looking to compete in the organic rankings with large companies, optimising your content for long tail keywords is a perfect way to drive highly relevant visitors to your website.

3. Make your company look bigger with LinkedIn remarketing

Remarketing is perfect for making your company seem huge – even when it’s not.

You can display ads to previous website visitors across various ad networks, allowing you to bring user’s back to your website to complete a conversion.

There aren’t many places on the web you can’t remarket ads. Even Linkedin has recently made remarketing available to B2B marketers – which is a massive opportunity for those embracing it.

With over 500 million active users and 9 million business profile pages, Linkedin is a massive resource used every day by millions of engaged employees and business owners.

Better still, research shows that LinkedIn is the ultimate social media platform for generating B2B leads.

But, how do you approach remarketing content?

You can’t just remarket your product to previous users all day – they hardly know who you are yet – why should they trust you? As you’re not yet a household name, this tactic is a surefire way of spamming your prospects and wasting a whole lot of cash in the process.

Instead, enrich their social feed with relevant information which will help them along their buying process. Promote content that will either answer questions or field objections they may have.

Linkedin has summed this strategy up nicely in the graphic below:

Targeting content at your decision makers and influencers is great for gaining that initial trust with your company.

From there, you can put the users into a remarketing funnel or capture their email address to slowly and surely guide them towards a purchase.

4. Finally, be reactive and authentic

At big companies, everyone is hired to do a defined job. They have processes to ensure nothing drops off their corporate radar.

If, and only if, something is urgent, that’s when large companies hire or allocate work internally. In a lot of cases, marketing opportunities aren’t fully exploited by big companies as the employees, who take on this new workload, already have other responsibilities between 9-5.

Everything else is extra work.

Small companies don’t have this problem.

They can follow the money, and forget about the job specification. This is where small companies shine and can start to chip away at market share.

As mentioned above, LinkedIn now have new advertising features available to B2B marketers. Small companies are able to pounce on this opportunity the day it comes out, whereas larger organisations react slower due to the allocation and change management processes.

If you’re a small company, it’s vital to keep your finger on the pulse and always be aware of new opportunities.

Moz released a great video which showcases how companies can niche-down to build a great business and increase brand authenticity through digital marketing and SEO. You can watch the full video here.


It’s easy to feel powerless against the likes of the Fortune 500. They monopolise the web by driving massive amounts branded and unbranded traffic to their website.

And while it can feel like an impossible task to compete – the world of online marketing provides many ways you can focus efforts to carve your success.

The key is to not spread yourself thin, and focus all your attention where it matters most.

Be nimble and drop everything that isn’t working, and move towards where the opportunities are.

In summary:

  • Focus on few, more profitable keywords in your PPC campaigns
  • Uncover long-tail keywords for your content and SEO strategy
  • Appear bigger, and raise conversions with LinkedIn remarketing
  • Keep your finger on the pulse and jump on opportunities as they arise.

Only then will you begin to claw market share off the world’s biggest companies.

Your turn!

Let me know if you’ve used any tactics that have helped you compete against the large companies in your industry!


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