Every small business has a brand, whether they know it or not. That branding occurs in the minds of your customers, prospects, employees, stakeholders, and community at large. One mistake that’s fairly common in small business is letting the marketplace determine your company’s positioning.
You need to take control of your brand and position yourself in the marketplace. It is your job to shape and fashion the perception that prospects have of you and your firm. If you assume that “everyone knows what our company does,” you're in trouble – big trouble. It is your job to determine, define, brand, present, and then control the way your business is perceived.
Here are a few basic, but very important, elements in controlling perception: What's the message (written and unwritten) conveyed by your business cards, your emails, and your brochures?
Imagine a motivational speaker whose email address ends in @aol.com or a management consultant who hands you a homemade business card with inkjet streaks and those little fringly perforated edges? Not exactly a confidence-builder, right?
Remember, people want to do business with professional, hassle-free, customer-centric businesses. The image you convey determines how prospects think of you.
When it comes to specific products and services, do you offer options and different levels of service, or a take-it-or-leave-it deal?
More importantly, do you talk about your company and what the company does (inputs) or do you focus on overt benefits to your customers and successful outcomes (results)?
If the client's bottom-line results are not foremost in your discussions, why should customers choose to work with your company? (Hint: work to develop a simple 1-page sales tool for each of your products and services where client results and outcomes – in dollars and cents – are always on page 1!)