Sitting at the Grown-Up’s Table
Ever feel that sometimes, people are unable to accept you as a serious business because you work from home, or run your business out of a Starbucks?
Well, it seems we’re conditioned to think this about small businesses. We associate professionalism with business that have offices in towers, or staff to manage various tasks, or a huge phone tree. It does not help that so many small business die each year instilling insecurity about collaborating with a small fry.
But it does not have to be this way.
Consider any small business that started in a garage: HP, Apple, Google, Harley-Davidson, and Yankee Candle Company. Each started from nothing. Cash strapped to start, but with sweat equity, perseverance, determination, creativity, and a little luck, each are some of the largest companies in their respective categories.
How can you appear to be a Goliath when you are a lowly David? Try some of these suggestions on for size.
Keep your branding consistent across all of your digital and offline marketing offerings. This will go a long way to help visitors and customers know they are dealing with the correct business.
If you run a direct marketing campaign, make certain that any postcards or letters carry the same branding, and use the same colors, as your website and be certain that your logo is the same across all of your social media accounts.
A small investment in business cards and letterhead will also go a long way toward maintaining brand consistency and improve your image in your customer’s eyes. Check out Moo for some exceptional business cards.
Check Your Mail
Nothing screams unprofessional more than sending out email from ‘[email protected]’, ‘[email protected]’, or ‘[email protected]’. These are great for personal email accounts, but not for business email.
If you already have a website and you are not sending email from ‘[email protected]’, then you are not taking advantage of the opportunity to present your business in the best light. Sending email containing your domain will increase your open rate. The reason for this is your email appears as a legitimate message to those who receive it. This increases trust and confidence to your recipient.
Those without a website have numerous options available to claim a domain-based email. Know that almost every web hosting company from a1Hosting to Zoho offer email as a standard feature when you purchase a domain or hosting package. There are also several email-only services that will host your domain and email without a website if you so choose.
If you love Gmail then you can have your domain-based email using Gmail with Google GSuite. With GSuite you not only get all the benefits of Gmail along with Google’s suite off business apps including Docs, Sheets, Presenter, Calendar and Drive. Pricing starts at $5 per user pre month.
Managing your social media accounts can be like herding cats. Each one has a different image size, each has what I refer to as a “Optimal Posting Window”. These are the times users on a given platform are most likely to interact with the service and therefore, more likely to see your post.
To wrangle all of your social media accounts into one unified platform I suggest using Buffer. For the price of zero dollars a month, Buffer allows you to sift through up to 15 RSS feeds letting you locate shareable posts, basic analytics (but can be tied into Google Analytics), and the ability to schedule your posts so they are delivered at the most opportunistic time.
Another great way to increase your business footprint is to engage with bloggers and vloggers. Reach out to them. Offer them a free post about their site or channel. Interact with their posts. The purpose of this is to leverage their audience to augment your audience. Cross-promoting their site with yours is a win-win. You both get the chance to grow.
Not only should you be building relationships with social media, I strongly urge you to build relationships with potential and existing customers. The best way to do this is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool like Hubspot. For the Wonderful low-low price of zero dollars, you get an excellent solution to manage email lists, send trackable email so you know when it has been opened, website marketing pop-ups that allow you to harvest email addresses from site visitors, and the ability to create email templates that allow you to build a semi-automated email threads.
You may not know that many services offer low priced or free versions of their service. These are perfect for those flying solo or have fewer than five employees. Here is a short list of tools you may want to consider to streamline other parts of your small business:
- Email Campaigns: MailChimp
- Time Tracking and Invoicing: Harvest App
- Team Management: Asana
- Accounting: Wave Accounting
- Customer Support: Zendesk
- Phone Lines: Google Voice
You may be a small business, but that does not mean you need to act like one. Perception is key. Putting one or all of these tools to use may help you convince a prospective client that you mean business and make you more efficient in the process.
Do you have any favorite solutions that help you appear larger than you are? If so, let me know in the comments below. I look forward to learning about them.
And if you need any of the services mentioned, please drop me a note to learn more.
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