Sometimes it can feel a little like David and Goliath in the business world, with small businesses going up against the large corporates and giant chain stores. So how can you compete when your expense budget isn’t even a rounding error on a company spreadsheet? It starts with the level of professionalism you present to the market. Here are five ways your small business can match it with the big end of town.
One thing about big businesses is they have a clear understanding of who they are, what they do, and why they’re doing it. And there’s a reason for that: the answers to those three questions underpin every business decision they make, from their advertising to their expansion plans. When you can clearly and consistently articulate across any marketing platform what your business is, what problems it solves for your customers, and how you do it better than anybody else, you begin to develop a reputation as someone who knows what they are doing.
Create your brand
People often get confused when we talk about building a brand and think it’s only about the colours or the logo. But your brand is so much more than that. Your brand is what other people think when they hear your business name. So it makes sense that you spend some time thinking about how you want to be described by your customers.
To do this you need to think about who your target market is, what products they like, how they speak, and what words and tone they respond to. Once you have a clear idea on this, you can start thinking about designing your logo, business cards, product labels, etc. to be a visual representation of your brand. This is a really important step. Too many small business owners launch into colours and logos without thinking who they’re targeting, and so miss the mark when it comes to perceived levels of professionalism.
Build your website
If your serious about being seen as a professional business, you need to have a professional website. It’s no longer an option not to have an online presence. This is one area where you may need to spend some money and have a professional help you so your website loads fast, matches your branding, is regularly maintained, and has enough detail to answer most of your customers’ questions.
Master your content
You’ve all heard the saying ‘Content is king’. And while in this digital age it’s very true, nothing says ‘unprofessional’ quicker than typos, poor grammar and confusing sentence structure. There’s no point in producing content your customer can’t (or won’t) read. There are plenty of free online tools to help you craft better sentences such as Hemingway and Grammarly. If you’re going to be creating content that describes your brand as having great attention to detail, at least run it through spell check first.
Develop your templates
One of the simplest ways to look more professional in the eyes of your customers is to have standard templates for different areas of your business. Large corporations are well known for the size of their style guides, which detail what colour, font, logo, words and phrasing can be used in any correspondence or marketing. But most employees don’t have access to the style guide because they’re not allowed to create new material. They only have access to the templates based on the style guide. And the reason for this is so everything that leaves the office, whether it’s a letter, a brochure or a box, all look exactly the same. This consistency in product labelling helps build awareness and trust in a brand. When you first start out in business, it’s good to use online templates that have been created by graphic designers so you too can have consistency in your product labelling.
With these five steps you’ll soon have your business looking and feeling like the major players in town. Technology is changing how small business is presented, so don’t let anyone tell you that small can’t compete against big.