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We are conditioned to think that successful business practices are often trickled down from large enterprises into small businesses. While this is generally true, there are some instances where global business organizations would do good to look into what makes certain small businesses (and startups) shine and quickly climb up from obscurity, becoming the hot item in town.

If your marketing department has been tasked with conducting enterprise-level reputation management, and as it stands you have put the right technologies and tools in place to track, document, and engage with those reviewing your brand, then take a moment to consider how small, almost costless behaviors can be radically impactful on how customers perceive your brand.

The ingenuity and entrepreneurial approach of many small businesses and startups has shown us that small moves, when done right, will give any business, regardless of size, a competitive edge in brand perception, customer loyalty, and lead generation.

customer loyalty

Innovation Sells and Encourages Conversation

Some of the most successful and visible SMBs and startups are those that enter the market through innovation. The uniqueness of their products or services ensures they are in a league of their own, creating a new market where competing for customers is no longer necessary.

Large enterprises and global corporations would benefit immensely from incorporating to their overall offering of innovative products and services, to further expand their reach and trigger conversations online and offline among their existing client base, as well as gaining exposure to potential customers seeking out new concepts.

Innovation is not always groundbreaking; sometimes it’s a reflection of the willingness of a business to try something new. Something as simple as flavors that reflect trends can do a world of good when it comes to increasing the speed and quality of customer reviews on sites like Yelp and Yahoo Local.

Every Customer Counts: Make Them Feel That Way

A key differentiator among SMBs and startups, when compared to mega corporations, is their commitment to deal with every customer at a personal level.

It just takes a few moments of browsing through the reviews of these smaller organizations to quickly notice that in sharp contrast to chains and large corporations, they take the time to engage with individual customers, often recalling the narrative of their experience and personalizing every online and offline interaction.

Enterprises wishing to provide a similar experience may benefit from empowering individual branches and units to manage their own online reputation at store level.

Through ownership and accountability, each unit stands to achieve a stronger bond with customers that could potentially influence and improve customer loyalty, as measured by their Net Promoter Score. The number of customers that have walked away from large enterprises to give their business to the smaller, more engaged vendor is staggering. There is nothing more powerful than a large enterprise with the technologies and resources to deliver big things, and the passion to do it in a very personal way.

Free Exposure Is Priceless – Use It

When one has a large marketing budget, it is tempting to forget about readily available opportunities that come at no cost.

If there is one lesson enterprises can take from small and successful startups, it is to leverage every free or low-cost tool available. Companies of every size and segment can benefit from incremental exposure and direct leads in the neighborhood of 10 to 40 percent, depending on their segment from third-party review sites.

For example, there are endless stories of new and unique boutique hotel properties that have achieved online domination over and above chains by taking advantage of consistent and active presence across all third-party sites like TripAdvisor or

Be a conversation starter by ensuring you have taken ownership of all your profiles in all relevant review sites, and you have set the stage for engagement by using well-crafted marketing copy, as well as superior images paired with ongoing responsive reputation management.

(Learn how to claim your yelp page.)

Go Back to the Drawing Board Often 

Great SMBs and startups build their foundation by having a product or service that is responsive to the needs of the customer, and being willing to adapt quickly, based on feedback.

With larger organizations making changes to processes, it may be intimidating when taking into account all the moving parts of the machine. It is, however, essential to adopt a culture that takes into account customer opinion in order to grow customer loyalty and develop a brand that conveys a high level of commitment to meeting customers’ needs and delivering solutions that make sense.

Learn how to mine your reviews, as well as the reviews of your competitors, to quickly revise your offering and culture, creating alignment between what the customer truly wants and what you can offer. Invest in enterprise-worthy feedback management to centralize all your feedback data. 

When It Comes to Making Things Right, Act First, Then Ask for Forgiveness

One great lesson that comes from SMBs and startups is a culture of empowerment. According to many reports, the bulk of negative reviews from consumers are associated with a company’s unwillingness or inability to make things right on the spot when a concern is escalated.

Young market entrants often thrive because of their ability and willingness to take ownership of an issue, without the burden of bureaucratic barriers. Learn to empower individual units within your enterprise to fix things, even if on occasion it means pushing the limits of the policies and procedures set forth by headquarters. 

When It Comes to Review Sites, Visibility Is Not Correlated to Size

The online reviews landscape is one place where size does not matter. Companies that achieve the greatest visibility do so through engagement, quality, and commitment.

Don’t let your size interfere with your success or level of engagement. The truth is that third-party review sites grant everyone a level playing field, and it is up to you to set up a strategy that pushes your business units to the next level. At ReviewTrackers, we have put together the tools and knowledge base you need to succeed in this field of marketing. Let us help you set the stage for success.

Chris Campbell

Chris is the CEO of ReviewTrackers. He has helped tens of thousands of businesses hear, manage, and respond to what their customers are saying online.


  1. Benito Salvatore

    I think that most good business practices come from smaller groups or businesses. Larger businesses tend to search out successful strategies and perfect them. But the initial spark of genius usually comes from some nobody somewhere.

    • Sasha

      That sounds about right. What was that quote: a small group can change the world, in fact, it’s all that ever has. Or something like that.

  2. spameater

    Free exposure is priceless but investing some money in marketing won’t hurt you.