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Big Brands vs. Small Business: Comparing CPG and Entrepreneurial Marketing Strategies

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

A women holding a laptop pointing in the air
How Marketing Can Differ Based On Industry

Adapting to changes is no easy task. It was in 2016 when I uprooted and left the corporate world, moving to a rural mountain town in Central Alberta, and to be honest it was a bit of an adjustment at first. Not only were there life changes, but also adapting to a different job landscape. Prior to that, my experience was in brand marketing specifically in the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) industry. So, when I started my own marketing consulting business, I was now primarily supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs. As I began to apply my marketing skills to this new area, there were many things I discovered and new learnings that I wasn’t expecting.

For starters, some of the things that carried over well are the overall general approach, framework, and process for growing a business. The key themes of understating your market, identifying the problems, gathering insights, developing a plan, creating the strategies and so forth don’t change. In CPG, it’s an absolute requirement because of the size and scale of an organization, the different cross functional teams involved and if you’re going to launch a new product or make changes to something existing there is a lot of lead time and cooperation involved to get to that final step. So, a plan will let everyone know where you intend to take your business and they can act accordingly. However, planning takes a lot of time and energy, so for small businesses a plan is often non-existent. More often, owners and managers are focused on resolving the current issues on hand and putting out the fires, so things tend to get handled more on a day-to-day basis thus planning often gets pushed aside.

What was interesting to learn was the use of different marketing tactics of CPG vs. small businesses. Some of the tactics that we rarely put any emphasis on for CPG, are actually very valuable tools for local businesses and entrepreneurs. Things such as email marketing, creating lead magnets, developing funnels and creating automation are staple tactics for many entrepreneurs due to the nature of the industry. It was almost like this whole new world of marketing that I had not been privy to. Even with social media, I’ve had managers question the need for social media and the ROI, while for small businesses it’s essential for building a relationship and connecting with your customers.

Small organizations don’t have the benefit of having different departments for managing systems. So by leveraging different technologies and platforms it can simulate having these systems in place, or at least simplify managing the process. In the end, a lot of it boils down to the needs, how well it can scale and the type of industry you are in.

Marketing is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay on top of the new trends, to know where your core consumers are spending their time and the new platforms that are at your disposal. The biggest takeaway is that there really is no one size fits all, and to have an open mindset that things that worked at one point in time may have now shifted to something else, so you need to be ready to adapt and evolve.

Alan Phung

Marketing and Creative Strategist


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