Can you really call your business ambitious if you’re not doing these?
First impressions are incredibly important in all walks of life, none more so than in the world of business. Small businesses are especially culpable for not marketing themselves as well as they possibly could and underselling their qualities. You may believe that you have the best product or service since sliced bread but if you have a website from the 90’s then potential clients won’t believe you…and quite frankly, I don’t blame them!
Your skillset alone won’t cover you when it comes to projecting a reputable brand image and today, when improving your identity can be financially viable, what is your excuse for not even having a logo? Unless you have a prior relationship with a client then brand image really is crucial to securing leads. If you want to be ambitious, cast your net further ashore and compete with the big boys and girls then you must make your company seem bigger than it is. Here’s how:
1. Choose the right name
Assuming that you already have a company name, you should consider changing it if it’s hampering your growth. A name that includes your location or suggests in any way that you are small will have a negative impact on your brand image unless, of course that is your target market. Although changing your company name is not expensive and easily done, it must be considered that the biggest problem you will face is keeping hold of your existing loyal customers. Transitioning your clients will be the biggest challenge you will face, but it is worth the effort to have that killer company name instead of one your scared to tell your friends about.
If you are yet to name or even start up your company, then first things first, make sure people can say it! Ensure your businesses name is easily pronounceable and at least semi relatable to your niche. Also, your domain name should be similar to, if not the same, as your company name. It’s vital for your on and offline presence to resonate continuity or else your brand identity will suffer.
2. Create a company-specific email address
There is very little that makes you look smaller than using a generic email address host such as Gmail or Yahoo! Just imagine you are a potential client that your company wants to do business with and you receive an email from ‘email@example.com’. Doesn’t look good does it? Make sure you have specific email addresses for each member of staff or each service area e.g. ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or ‘email@example.com’.
3. Incorporate your business
Consider registering with the Companies House (Incorporation) as this is also a signal to potential clients and customers that your company is serious and professional. As with all business decisions you should consider the costs involved with such a change and weigh up whether or not it will be beneficial in the long run.
4. Get a great website
If you’re an ecommerce or online only business, this is your storefront. It should be inviting. There are hundreds of options when designing and optimising your website to portray your brand image. Here are some key things you should consider:
- Asses your markets landscape and see how similar sized, successful competitors design their site.
- Link to all other aspects of your online presence such as social media profiles.
- Build trust by adding badges, certificates and testimonials from previous and existing clients.
- Above all, focus on the user and the responsiveness of the site to allow for quick and easy conversions.
Neglect any of the above points at your own risk. It will create distrust in your business and a brand image of amateurishness to the user.
5. Outsource graphic design
Designing an easily recognisable and stark logo is brand awareness 101. Investing time and effort into creating a professional and appropriate logo can seem like a losing battle, especially if you’re not a tech whizz kid. Hiring a freelance graphic designer is only a Google search away and outsourcing can allow you to get on with what your good at.
6. Move into an Office
Eventually, you may have to meet with potential clients face to face. A company with a multimillion pound turnover probably won’t want to meet you for a proposal in your mum’s living room. Even if moving into an office is not realistic for your current income, many business parks and office spaces allow for temporary leases. If it’s the difference between landing a client and not then spending a bit of money to massively improve your offline brand image is no doubt worth it.
7. Telephone Answering Service
As a part of a small business, you more than anyone will understand that incoming calls can drain time and work rate. When margins are so fine, spending all your time productively is important and dealing with irritating sales calls is the last of your priorities. A ‘Telephone Answering Service’ can help to alleviate pressures when calls spike and improve your brand image through friendly and professional phone answering. Never miss out on a potential lead and give your company a personal touch with affordable, 24/7, 365 days a year telephone answering services.
8. Blog regularly
Don’t underestimate the power of regular and relevant blogging. This is one of the first things you should do as a small business. Not only does it increase brand exposure and make your company a trusted influencer in your field, but if you are helpful and provide interesting content, it will help to drive traffic and sales.
Blogging is easy and quick to setup and, when done well, provides a great ROI. All it will cost you is the time it takes to create quality content. The writing itself is not easy and you should create a schedule to stick to. Remember to not solely blog promotionally and focus more on answering your audience’s questions. The leads will follow.
9. Engage on social
A strong social media presence is great for expanding your outreach and promoting your brand elsewhere than your website. Social Media Marketing is the biggest growing digital marketing method but it should form a part of your overall strategy rather than the be all and end all. Share your blog posts, newsletters and content with your audience and interact with key influencers to build a targeted following.
There are a variety of ways to increase your brand image online. Puff out your chest and follow these steps to give your brand an opportunity of competing with the larger companies. In today’s digital landscape there’s no excuse for restraining your businesses opportunities.