Being a small business can sometimes be an advantage, allowing you to play on the quality and exclusivity of your service and the personal service you provide. But your size can also deter potential customers who fear that you may not be up to the task like your larger competitors.
It is up to you to persuade them that you can do the job.
“Small firms, particularly those working from home, can be susceptible to image problems,” explains Ben Harris, CEO of the Decibel Group. “However, many successful small businesses are run from home, yet project the image of being much bigger firms. It’s about looking as credible as larger competitors.”
Start by looking the part.
“There aren’t many places customers can go to establish your credentials, and all these points of contact need to look professional,” stresses Harris. “If a customer looks at your website, and it’s poorly put together, it puts doubts in their mind.
“People look to these communications for validation,” he continues. “If it doesn’t look and feel right, it’s much harder to impress them.”
According to Harris, small firms need to spend that bit extra on their marketing if they are going to compete. “But even if you only have the marketing budget to do a few things, the key is to do them really well,” he adds.
Next, dress up your contact information.
“If you can’t play on the fact that you are a small business, you should be trying to cover it up in the most efficient way,” Harris insists. This includes your contact information. For example, if you are concerned that giving customers your residential address does not look very professional, consider using a PO Box or renting an address from a redirection business.
Your website and stationery are important, too.
If you are online, have a professionally designed website and your own domain name. It can be another indication that you are a small business if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org rather than email@example.com.
Get your written materials designed and printed professionally, whether this is stationery, brochures, business cards or signage. “Often when you meet small-business owners while networking, they talk a good game, and you get a good feel for their business. Then they hand you a home-made business card, and it really doesn’t look very professional,” Harris remarks.
“Little things like having your cards done properly are not going to create business for you, but they are going to help prevent you from losing customers,” he concludes.
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