We subconsciously make judgments within seconds of being introduced to a business, whether it is through viewing their website, meeting an employee, driving past a billboard, or hearing about them from a friend. So how does one create this positive image for themselves?
There are a few key points to consider;
- Branding: All of your promotional materials should have a cohesive look so people can remember and recognize your brand anywhere. And a few other questions to consider; Does your business have a compelling mission statement & values? Do you have a memorable hook phrase that summarizes that mission statement & those values?
- Reputation: Image is not only about your brand. It has a lot to do with your interactions with clients, staff, and others within your target audience. How your business chooses to communicate with anyone and everyone does a LOT in terms of your company’s reputation. Other questions to consider; Did you receive an award in the past year? Did you support the SPCA or the Canadian Cancer Society with every purchase a customer made? Did you let those achievements be known? Publicize your achievements on your radio advertisements, in the newspaper, and of course post it on your website, twitter, and any other free social media tools you utilize.
- Online presence: Speaking of social media tools, do you have an online presence? Do you have a website? What about a Facebook page? If you don’t, have a look at this previous blog post. If you have a poor online presence, you might as well not have an online presence at all.
- Referrals: If you don’t currently ask for referrals from clients, not only are you leaving money on the table, but you are losing out on what could be strong and trusting client relationships that are already built before you even meet the client! Talk about a big deal!
What if you’re unsure as to where you stand in terms of public image? With all of the above points in mind, it’s easy to tell that just about every decision you make will affect your business image. As a matter of fact, even your personal image can affect your business image, so where do you go from here? Start by taking a look at where you are now: Do you get feedback from your clients and your target audience? What about your staff? You may think people have a view of who you are as a business, and you could be on a completely different wavelength than those around you. Ask for feedback in the form of questionnaires, surveys etc. And no, don’t ask your mom what she thinks – She will ALWAYS tell you she loves what you’re doing.
Make a conscious effort to always be kind, and always want to talk about what you are doing. If you bump into a friend you haven’t seen in a while, do you mention your business? Do you give them a card and invite them to come and see your office space? You pay hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars each month promoting your business via advertisements and billboards, but do you miss the boat on self-promotion? Promoting yourself to anyone and everyone who cares to listen is FREE advertising, folks! Take advantage and you can cash in for it!
Written by Michelle Breau