January 27, 2012
Have you ever lost a prospective client because they didn’t feel comfortable with your company? I have and I would argue that most entrepreneurs have at some point. Unfortunately, this happens everyday to new businesses around the world and especially in the United States. By nature, humans are risk averse and that directly correlates into their buying behavior. In more developed countries like the United States, consumers are so spoiled by the juggernaut companies with billions of dollars at their disposal that perfect product presentations becomes the standard. While this is great for any economy, it makes it harder for small businesses to compete. The question is how can you make your company look like a fortune 500 without the budget?
Like they say, the first impression is always the most important. In my experience, there are 6 things you must have to look like a credible business.
1. Get a 1-800 #
Access is one of the most important factors prospects use to determine if they are going to buy. They want to know that if they have a question, you (your company) will be there to answer. An easy way to ease the concerns of a prospect is to purchase a 1-800 #. Back in the day this used to be expensive but with modern technology, you can get a number for only $2/month.
Don’t believe me? Check this out – http://www.kall8.com
2. Open A Virtual Office
A virtual office is a service that allows your company to rent a prime business address in your area, without the lease. In addition, some virtual office services allow you to use more services like receptionists, meeting rooms and they’ll forward your mail to your real address, normally first class.
Open a virtual office – http://virtualoffices.regus.com
3. Incorporate Your Business
This is probably something you’ve already heard but I’m telling you for a different reason. One thing I’ve noticed about more savvy consumers is they ask questions to see if you know what you’re doing, even outside of your service offering. One question, that I’ve been getting lately is “Are you incorporated? LLC, S-Corp, Partnership?”. If you even hesitate with this question it can be a deal breaker. Incorporating early forces you to understand the different types of corporate entities and discuss (from a high level) to your prospect why you chose that type and that you are officially registered by your secretary of state’s office.
Georgia Secretary of State – http://www.sos.ga.gov/corporations/
4. Develop A Quality Website
I think this is a given but I still see small businesses damaging their brand by having a crappy website or not having one at all. A website is meant to be the virtual extension of your offline business and consumers are using their impression of your site to decide if they will do business with you. The most important thing with your website should do is be able to effectively communicate your core offering in less than 10 seconds. A strategy used to do this is called the “billboard strategy”, simply it’s a graphic layout of your website’s homepage that includes a billboard like graphic when the consumer first lands on the page.
5. Create Business Cards
Business cards are one of the least expensive items on this list but arguably the most important. People really gauge just how serious your company is based on you having business cards or not. Even though I know that not having business cards doesn’t necessarily mean that a person may not be professional, I still question the seriousness of the person subconsciously. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on cards but make sure they contain the following:
Like most others, I use VistaPrint for my cards.
6. Testimonials, Testimonials, Testimonials
Like I said before, consumers are risk averse and want to do business with proven companies. A lot of small business owners think that “proven” means years of past client history. Proven just means that you’ve done the work for clients in the past and they were satisfied. Also, one important note is that a client doesn’t always have to be someone who has paid for your services. It can be someone that you offered the services to for free and then they gave you a testimonial about their appreciation for your work. The paying clients that you engage after getting these testimonials don’t have to know that you weren’t paid for the work and normally they never ask unless you tell them
This is how to look like a Fortune 500 for a fraction of the price.