When your business is just beginning, it can be difficult to convince clients that you are a professional outfit. Regardless of the fact that you always give every project your best efforts and have a worked with plenty of satisfied customers in the past, securing new clients is an uphill struggle if your company doesn’t give off the right image.
Separate business and personal
If you’ve only just started your business, it can be tempting to continue using your personal contact details to source clients and respond to queries, but this is often a poor decision. At best, it can look like you’re not taking the business seriously, but at worst, potential clients could think that you are a scammer.
Setting up dedicated contact details, particularly a phone and email address, is one of the quickest, cheapest, and most effective ways of giving your organisation a professional image. It also helps you to separate your business and personal life, letting you switch off and ensuring you answer your calls in the appropriate tone.
Cut out the errors
If your website, marketing materials or email correspondences are riddled with errors, it doesn’t give off a very good impression about your attention to detail, your quality of work, or your business as a whole.
Installing a web browser plugin that checks your grammar is one easy step that could improve your accuracy, or for a more thorough job you could invest in some external help. Editorial services like Proofmaster can check all your business material, edit them and enhance them in a way that will make your organisation look as professional as possible.
Set up a website, but make it a good one
Having a website is a must for a modern business, but setting up a poor quality one can do you more harm than good. In many cases, your web page will be the first encounter that a customer has with your business, so you need it to be clear and user-friendly.
Is it easy to find out all the relevant information, for example? Make sure you have a “Contact” page and an “About Us” section that states what it is that you do. Also, when coming up with your website, don’t run before you can walk. If you feel like you can create a quality website yourself with the various online tools that are available to you, then go ahead. If not, then paying for a professional web designer is probably a worthwhile investment.
Look the part
If you’re going to be including images as part of your company website or brand, make sure they are of a suitable quality. Whether it’s your logo or a photograph of your previous work, check how it looks when expanded to the largest size that you need before you publish or send it. Pixels don’t look very professional.
Embellish where you can
Sometimes it can pay off to make your business seem a little more substantial than it actually is. This doesn’t mean lying to your potential clients, but there are legitimate ways of embellishing your organisation.
For example, if you are sending off an invoice to a customer, use a longer invoice number than you need to. Sending across “Invoice No: 4” doesn’t exactly make it look like you have a lot of orders and may make a client think twice about working with you again.
Similarly, when describing your work, talk about “teams” of staff rather than individuals. The team may only have two members, but it helps create an image of a company that is flourishing, which can be particularly useful in the early days of a business.
Take good care of your customers
As a small business owner, it is understandable if your staff are spread thinly – perhaps you are a sole trader and have to do everything yourself. However, what is not understandable is neglecting customer enquiries. If you fail to respond to an email or phone call then it’s likely that a competitor is getting some business instead.
In order to avoid this issue, set up some form of automated response to make up for the times where you are busy. This could be a voice mail message asking them to leave their contact details or a pre-written email informing the customer that you will get back to them as soon as possible.
There is still a role for face-to-face networking in the modern world, particularly when trying to create a professional image. Make sure you have some business cards printed and on hand and come up with a relevant but formal job role that sounds impressive, but not silly. If you’re the sole operator of your business, then putting “CEO” on your business card could actually work against you, as normally this position would be a little more behind-the-scenes.
Boost your media exposure
One of the most common problems for small businesses is not getting enough exposure, but have you actually reached out to publications and journalists to help get your business out there? Media publications are always on the lookout for news, so get in touch with some in your local area and see if they’d be willing to plug your business. Media exposure not only helps advertise your business, it demonstrates that it is noteworthy and worth talking about.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it
If you’ve received positive feedback from previous customers then make sure this is at the front and centre of your brand. This kind of recommendation can make or break a small business, so give your clients as much opportunity as possible to praise you. Create a feedback form and email it around to past customers giving them the chance to leave a few comments. You could even offer a small discount on future work in exchange for their feedback.
As a small business, creating the right impression is vitally important for attracting customers and growth. You’ll still want to maintain the personal touch that lets small businesses stand out from their larger competitors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still give off a professional impression.