Time for a marketing MOT?

First impressions count and your business has less than seven seconds to make a good one to potential customers.

Every time someone comes into contact with you and your business, they’ll be making a pretty instant decision on whether they want to trust you with their hard-earned cash.

Whether they are meeting you in person for the first time, hearing about your company from an existing customer, looking at your website or picking up an advertising flier you left in the local newsagents, potential customers will quickly decide whether they want to buy from you or someone else.

Are you winning or losing customers at first sight?

Take an honest look at your company’s image, reputation and marketing to check that you are making the best possible first impression.

Your company’s brand represents what you do, what you stand for and whether you’re good or bad at what you do – in the eyes of your customers.

There’s a great quote from Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon which goes, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

We all have a personal and professional reputation and every company has a reputation too. Your brand is your visual reputation and will always provoke a reaction – good or bad.

A good business will know exactly what their customers think of them because they’ve spent time working out what they WANT customers to say about them and developed their company branding to translate this vision into reality.

And a good business will know if their efforts are paying off because they’ll be checking regularly that customer opinion matches their brand vision.

You can’t do this unless you know your starting point.

Ask yourself

  • Can you explain what you do and what makes your business stand out from the competition in one sentence?
  • How are you using great customer feedback to boost your reputation?
  • Does your company’s branding and logo back up your USP?
  • Are you proud to hand over your business card to potential customers?
  • What comes up when you Google your business?
  • What comes up when you Google a key competitor?
  • Have you got a website?
  • Have you got a Facebook page? If so, how many new “likes” did you get last year?
  • Where will your new business come from this year?

Can you answer all these questions positively? 

If you found it quick and easy to give a positive reply to each question – well done!

You are obviously running a successful business and understand the importance of your brand and the role it plays in your company’s image and reputation.

Mostly positive answers?

That’s good news too – it shows you’ve considered and addressed some of the most important aspects of marketing your business. Now could be the time to look at those areas where you’re not quite so confident.

Mainly “No” or Don’t know?”

If you don’t have an accurate picture of how your company is perceived and haven’t put some basic effort into your marketing, you’ll never know where your need to focus your efforts to make your business more attractive and win new customers.

Start with the free stuff

You don’t need to rush out and spend a fortune on marketing experts to improve the reputation and success of your business. In fact, if you choose the right experts, you won’t have to spend a fortune at all to make your company stand out from the competition, but more of this later.

Let’s start by looking at how you can use what’s already in your head and at your fingertips to improve your company’s reputation and brand identity.

How do you stand out from the crowd? 

What do you do and what makes you stand out from your competitors?

You need to be able to answer this question quickly and concisely as sometimes, a few seconds is all you’ll have to “sell” your company.

The answer you come up with can translate into your Unique Selling Point (USP).

The “what” you do is hopefully very easy to answer – if it’s not, you’ve probably got a bit more work to do than this article can fully address!

We’ll assume you’ve nailed the “what’ and focus on what makes you different or better than the rest.

If you’re struggling to answer this, look at the feedback you get from your customers. What do they like most about using you and your business?

Chances are at least one key theme will come out of their answers. For example, if you’re a plumber and all your customers use you because you’re reliable, you need to include reliability in your USP as it’s obviously one of the most important benefits to your customers.

Great customer feedback is priceless!

If you don’t know what your customers think because you’re not currently collecting or using feedback from your customers – start now!

Customer feedback and testimonials cost nothing but can often make the difference on whether someone will use your business or look elsewhere.

A great testimonial provides an independent voice telling everyone how great you and your company are and it’s far more convincing than you saying so yourself.

You should be using customer feedback to shout from the rooftop why people should use you. When I say rooftop, I mean positive testimonials should be plastered across all your marketing tools – your website, trade directories, your Facebook page and in any printed materials you have.

Bad customer feedback is valuable too!

Of course, if you ask customers for feedback, you may not always like what they have to say.

That’s OK too – providing you always strive to turn negative comments into positive feedback.

You don’t have to publicise negative feedback but, if you’ve changed something to address a certain issue, highlighting the problem and how you solved it will show that you genuinely care about your customers and want them to be satisfied.

Have you got the right marketing tools to shout with? 

If you’ve got a good story to tell, you’ve got to make sure potential customers have the tools to hear it and that the tools you’re using are fit for the job.

A company’s marketing tools include their brand identity, their people, business stationery, marketing materials, websites, Facebook page and company vehicles.

Time for a makeover?

Is your company branding doing you justice?

Does everything that carries your company name look professional and fresh? Does your logo communicate what your business is all about? If not, it’s time to work with a quality graphic designer to give your business branding a boost.

Remember, you need to stand out in a crowded marketplace and the way your business looks from the outside could be a total deal-breaker.

Find a good designer who speaks your language and will be able to translate your ideas, hopes and budget limitations into eye-catching designs that will really help you to punch above your weight.

Sing the same song

Right, now you’re looking good, it’s time to make sure that your employees are all familiar with your USP and how to explain your business to people they meet.

We’re not going to talk about how important your people are as ambassadors of your business – you already know.

Be proud of your calling card 

Most small businesses and sole traders don’t have big budgets to spend on producing full-colour customer brochures and advertising.

However, all businesses big and small, should have decent business cards.

Make sure you are proud to leave yours in the hands of your customers, suppliers and anyone who could become a customer. It needs to include your shiny new logo, all your contact details and an explanation of what you do. Use both sides if you need to as the difference in price between single and double-sided printing is not much. Don’t be tempted to get 2,000 printed by a cheap online supplier – far better to start with 250 high-quality cards that won’t be thrown away the moment you leave the room.

Get a website!

Where do you start when you’re looking for a holiday, a gardener, dog-walker, accountant or how to hang wall-paper? Ask the rest of your family if you’re not convinced.

A website is a must in this day and age – even if most of your customers come from word of mouth recommendations.

A recent survey by Statista shows that over 70% of people will search the internet for a company that has been recommended to them.

And, the same percentage will consult reviews on reputable online trade directories before making contact.

A professionally-designed website carrying your company branding is your window to the world and puts you on a level playing field with your competitors.

Creating a good-looking and effective website doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.

A professionally-designed, mobile-friendly website that allows you to reach everyone, all the time, anywhere in the world can cost you less than a 30-second radio advert that only will only be played 20 times over the course of two months.

A quality website will promote your business 24/7 and allow people to find your business in seconds. The more eye-catching, well-designed, mobile-friendly and easy to navigate, the more effective it will be at winning new business.

Are you well “liked”?

If you’re not ready to invest in a company website (please reconsider), then you simply must have a Facebook page to give your business some kind of online presence.

It’s really important for people to find some mention of your company when they Google you. In an ideal world, they’d only need to Google their location and the products or service they’re looking for and your company name will pop up at the top of the page.

But, being top of the search results is not as important as simply being found.

We all want to feel confident that any business we use is trustworthy and well-established. We read online reviews, Facebook and websites to make us feel good about our purchasing decisions.

If you haven’t got a website (again, please reconsider!), a Facebook page can help you to reach new audiences and provide a rooftop where you can shout about your great customer feedback.

You can use your Facebook page to showcase your work with quality “before” and “after” photographs.

You can also post good customer reviews on your page and run competitions to get more “likes” and so reach more potential customers.

Ready for the new “You?”

A fresh, modern new look and feel for your business can attract a whole new audience and create a buzz that gets you noticed and talked about.

Top quality business cards will make sure you leave a lasting impression on everyone you meet.

Gathering and using customer feedback will help you understand your USP and use it to drive new business.

Investing in a professional website and creating a Facebook page will put your business centre stage when it comes to reaching potential customers.

And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to revitalise your company’s brand, image and reputation.

Start by finding a design and marketing company who won’t blind you with gobbledygook or charge ridiculous consultancy fees.

There are lots of small marketing companies who specialise in working with start-ups and small businesses who understand the need to make every penny count.

The right team will take the time to understand your business and tell you upfront how much it will cost to create a powerful brand image and exactly what you’re getting for your money.

At Brandabble, we offer a free, no obligation marketing audit to identify areas where you’re standing out from the crowd and areas where you are missing out on potential customers.

Call us today and let’s give your business something to shout about!

***

Brandabble is a small, friendly marketing company based in West Sussex.

We specialise in helping small to medium-sized business to punch above their weight with beautifully-designed websites, creative marketing ideas and professional copywriting that grabs attention.

If you’d like to hear how Brandabble can give your business the voice and look it needs to win new business, contact us today.

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