Do you feel like your business is not being taken seriously? Often all it takes are a few small missteps on your part to make your business seem amateurish.
If you want to be in the ring with the heavyweights, you need to train like a heavy weight, and for small business owners, that has everything to do with branding and customer service.
Here are 7 tips to consider so you’re not giving off a rinky-dink vibe that may send customers away.
Every business needs to have a website, no question about it. And while most businesses do, not everyone understands the need for that website to beprofessional relevant, and speak to your intended audience. A landing page smeared haphazardly with text and photos doesn’t cut it anymore. Your site needs to be organized and easy to navigate with clearly visible logos in the same place on every page.
You do have a blog right? These days businesses are speaking to their customers through social media – especially blogs. Try to think of it this way, if your website is the all professional marketing machine, your blog is it’s little brother, more playful, but equally effective in attracting, and keeping business.
Your blog is the place where you will give your customers personal updates on new products, tips and how-to videos. It’s the place your customers will go to get in touch with each other and share stories about how amazing your company really is. Don’t have a blog? It’s time to get one.
Do not ignore the validity of social media! Just like a blog, you need to be linked into social media sites to show prospective clients that you understand the importance of reaching customers how they want to be reached. There are a slew of sites to choose from these days, and I admit that it can be a headache trying to keep up with all the posting you may end up having to do. I suggest starting with the big two, Facebook and Twitter, and going from there.
Branding. Probably my least favorite buzzword of the last ten years There’s no way around it. The fact is that businesses that have a strong brand identity are simply easier to recognize and therefore easier to remember than businesses that don’t. Now, branding doesn’t have to be all that difficult. My advice is to spend the extra money to hire a professional illustrator or designer to create a logo for your business. Trust me, it will be money well spent. Once the logo is created, make sure it’s on every page of your website, blog and on your printed business cards (yes, you need printed business cards). Have your designer stick to one or two colors, and be sure to communicate throughout the design process. That way, you don’t end up with a logo you don’t like.
Staying on top of your correspondence is incredibly important no matter what the size of your business. If a customer reaches out to you with a question and you delay the answer, there is a good chance that the customer will lose faith in your company and your product. The same goes for comments on your blog. Think about the last time you called the credit card company or the cable company. Not so much fun to be put on hold is it? A little courtesy goes a long way.
Not everyone has the time to check your website or blog for updates. Adding a newsletter to your marketing strategy is a great way to keep your customers “in the know.” Now, if you already have a newsletter, make sure you’re doing it right. Never buy an email list from someone else. Not only will it look unprofessional to start sending emails to people who haven’t asked for them, there is a good chance that you could get in trouble for spamming. Your best bet is to start your own list using the double opt in method. A simple Google search of the words “double opt in newsletter” will pull up any number of articles that show you the ways to build a strong email list.
Put Yourself In The Customers Shoes
Running a small business is hard work, there is no doubt about it. The best advice I can give to the small business owner is to turn the tables and imagine that you are the customer. Peruse your website, blog and social media profiles. Would you do business with your company?
About the Author:
Daniel Cassady is an experienced freelancer, guest blogger, and frequent contributor to a blog hosted by Benchmark Email, on the world’s global email marketing providers.