By definition, a small business is a privately owned corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship that has fewer employees and less annual revenue than a corporation or regular-sized business. It is important to note that the definition of a small business varies based on what kind of company you operate and in some cases your geographic location.

Different countries and industries may have their own version of what counts as “small.” But generally, any company that sells goods or services in any industry can be a small business as long as they have a small number of employees and income below a certain value.

A big or large business therefore is the opposite of this i.e., one with a larger resource base in terms of finance, staff and also a significantly larger revenue record.

It is these key characteristic differences that also mean significant differences in how each of these companies is set up, run and marketed. In fact, the only similarity between these two as far as marketing is concerned is the marketing process that they each follow.


Business of all sizes typically follow this standard marketing process


Now, let us take a closer look at the key differences in how they approach aspects of their marketing efforts.


The big guys have the big budgets. What $10,000 means for a small business is not the same for a large business. I always advise clients to select activities that fit their situation and the budget is always right up there on consideration. I discourage you to choose cheap in the name of saving because anyone who has run a business for at least 3 years knows that those little things you decided to cheap out in the beginning are going to cost you way more in terms of money and time later.

Staying on the subject of marketing, let us say you opened up a tour operator business today and because your market is international, you definitely need to have a website. You check your bank and you have $1,000 to spend on marketing at the moment.

Are you going to;

a) Get a free website on one of those cookie-cutter sites & use this money elsewhere?
b) Throw it all on a website & pray it gets you clients?
c) Do a little bit of complimentary activities while being actively patient?

For starters, you would do well to remember that your website by itself will not guarantee sales. It is what you do with it and on it after you launch it that determines how good or bad an investment it was. For example, if no one can find your company website because your SEO sucks or your social media marketing is non-existent, it will not matter how beautiful the fonts are or how pretty the photos look.

So, I would recommend that you set aside about $100 to secure your domain name, get branded E-Mail accounts and talk to your designer nicely to throw in a cute landing page (or a placeholder on your domain), preferably one which can also handle some lead generation activity. I would then dedicate about half of the rest to social media marketing with a tight short-term goal of being able to realize enough sales to warrant spending on a full-blown website in about 90 days’ time.

For a large organization, $1,000 is nothing in terms of marketing because they have a wider audience to target and much more expensive channels to leverage effectively but a small business can get a lot done with $1,000 because they do not need thousands of customers to survive.

Still on the issue of budget, a small business shouldn’t be running a $10,000 television advert while dumping their social media activity to an unpaid, unskilled intern. Do you know how much fire power $10,000 on social media can be for a small business that partners with the right social media manager? What about that $2,000 print magazine advert you took out? Do you have any idea how much reach and awareness that 2k can get you online?

When your budget is tight, as the case usually is for small businesses, proper planning, sound advice and innovative execution are your best friend.

Do not throw away money and lose time in the name of “looking big.”


Most large businesses are able to set up and run entire marketing departments. In some, you will even find a marketing vice president who oversees other professionals who may include advertising directors, sales managers, online and social-media marketing managers, research directors, customer service specialists, and so on.

The small business organization chart on the other hand will add the marketing function the owner’s name, which puts them in the essential role of overseeing marketing as a hands-on task. It is highly unlikely that one person will have sufficient knowledge and skill to cover an entire department’s work successfully. There will always be an aspect of the work that suffers for example if you are great at strategy, you may not have the hands on skill to translate your ideas into design concepts or as a co-founder, you may be overwhelmed with client meetings and production that you do not have enough time to dive into research and analytics.

It would be ideal for you to outsource all your marketing execution and only retain strategy internally. Again, because of budget constraints, you may want to start with putting most of your effort on digital and then scaling elsewhere as the brand and customer base grows.


While larger businesses can easily spend millions just to create adverts with the purpose of building name recognition and market preference for their brands, small businesses prefer that their ads do double duty, that is, achieve name recognition and collect as many conversions as possible. Every small business marketing investment has to deliver or at least promise almost immediate and measurable market action.

An entertaining advert that gets people laughing and commenting and perhaps even running TIK TOK challenges related to it is all great if you can afford to go 6 months without generating at least 10% back on your marketing spend. But if you only have 2 months of runway left in the bank and a store full of merchandise that you got on credit, being applauded as a brand with a great sense of humor is not a priority KPI on your upcoming advertising campaign.

You want reach and maximum conversion on sales or at the very least lead generation. Brand love is great but survival is better until you have enough “security” in the bank.

Nailing the perfect balance would involve creating marketing communications that build a clear brand identity while also inspiring the most important consumer action to deliver inquiries, generate leads, and prompt sales — TODAY.

Are you running a small or mid-sized company? We would like to hear about your marketing, what have you tried? What is working? What is not? We may be able to help share a few insights to help you transform your journey.

Drop us an E-Mail on let’s find some SME Marketing solutions together.