We're all been there, as children all we ever wanted was to get older fast. Now as adults all we want is to be younger and smaller - in everything except our business.
Other then access to capital every small, developing business fights with the fact that they're the new kid on the block. Perspective clients want to hire a company with a long line of results and that's big enough to survive for the long term. Doesn't matter that you've been an expert with the work at hand for the last 5 years working for someone else - your clients perception that you're new becomes a significant hurdle to closing higher profit sales. Lets discus 5 things you can do to fight the perception, build a brand and earn you an edge.
1. Big companies don't use Gmail. Well that's a half truth. Big companies use gmail every day because of it's low cost, dependable service and excellent spam / junk mail filtering. What they NEVER do is use a Gmail email address because they know their email address is part of their overall band. If you own a website, you likely have your own domain already - if you don't, you might just want to put this down and order one right now. Start using your own email name now, and leave the gmail, yahoo, hotmail and me email addresses to the guys who don't get the job.
2. Websites are quickly changing from the old world idea of lead generators to confidence builders. To fully utilize this its important that you speak to your customer in their own words. Use the comments they make, questions and requests to show you've done this before. Consider converting your website to a blog so you can share your accomplishments as they roll in.
3. Telephones. How do you a answer the phone? Does your business have it own phone number? In this day and age of the Internet and mobile phones there is no reason not to have a big company image on the telephone. Big companies have trimmed the role of telephone receptionist and instead opted for voicemail and digital assistants. Now you don't need a huge PBX telephone system to get these features - they're included in most business VoIP plans with unlimited calling for as low as $25 a month. Just looking for a simple phone line? I'm paying $6.25 cents a month unlimited domestic with 2 cents a minute international calls. It's just $3 a month more for an 866 number. You've got to ask yourself. Why not?
4. Be an expert in your field. It's true that the Internet and Walmart have created a massively price competitive marketplace where the little guy has a hard time competing, so why try? Why join a bidding war to be a simple low profit box mover? Why not strut your stuff and have customers paying you for product, but also guidance to choose the right products and services for them? To do this you need to be earn their respect as an expert in your field and you absolutely need to target your audience. Once you who who you need to communicate to, you need to take that advertising mindset and throw it in the trash! Advertising doesn't build trust, and it's intrusive. Take out your Public Relations hat and go wild! Network, get on the go-to list for local business reporters, get published yourself. Just get your name out there as the expert and your products and services are now 100% more valuable than the big guys!
5. Have a memorable logo. Very few of the big players have continued to use their company name alone to brand their image. Most have opted to go to symbols and colors that communicate their goals and their commitment to their customers. Some companies, well I don't know where the heck they came up with it - but you remember it just the same. Jump on the branding bandwagon. Design your own with one of the many low cost logo programs, hire a community designer, look to the Internet for a free design website or have designers bid for your work on 99designs and Craig's List. Price should not be your reason for lacking a professional image.
Bonus idea! Want to stand out after networking meetings? I'm sure have a killer elevator pitch and by now you've learned to work the room, but how much do your perspective clients remember about you? Not much unless they jotted down some notes with 50 people to meet. Give them the best chance by setting some new business cards from Vistaprint or GotPrint. Forget about the colorful, busy backgrounds and use a simple professional looking layout and skip the cool glossy paper. Why? So people can write their notes about how great you are right on the card!
Bonus #2. Order the cards slightly odd sized or shaped. This will make your card stand out when they review all the cards collected and those notes about how great you are will be remembered!
Have fun playing big business dressup!