12 Ways to Make Your Small Business Seem Big
By Michael Harris
There is no substitute for an outstanding product, service and customer experience for a business of any size. But even when a small business has the right stuff, customers still want to feel confident in your strength and staying power before they make a purchase.
It’s important to understand that looking big is not about pretending to be something that you’re not. Rather, it means making a positive impression with your professionalism, creativity and authenticity. With the right attitude and strategies, a small business can be a big player. Here are 12 tips for putting your best “big” forward.
Customers want to feel confident in your strength and staying power before they make a purchase.— [Tweet This!]
1. Tap into Tech
Technology is a great equalizer. Today’s digital tools can help the tiniest company affordably compete with a corporate colossus. Through the web, cloud and app stores, growing businesses have access to performance-driving applications that were once reserved only for the biggest players. Not surprisingly, 7 of 10 small businesses say technology saves them time1 and two out of three view mobile solutions as critical to their businesses.2
2. Invest in Your Identity
Nothing says “we mean business” like a well-crafted logo and tagline that captures your unique identity and customer solutions. Spending a little on a great logo goes a long way because your logo is used in so many places, like your website, social media, business cards, and signage. Be on the lookout for other small business logos you love and ask the business owner for a referral to the designer. It is likely to be another small outfit like yours! Big-thinking small business owners understand the identity imperative—nine out of ten say having a unique brand that differentiates them from the competition is more important now than ever.3
3. Lead with a Big Voice
Incoming phone calls are the most valued measure of success for marketing efforts by small businesses.4 So when customers do call, be sure to deliver a high-quality experience by capitalizing on innovative voice service features. For example, when a business telephone number is called, and simultaneous and sequential ringing features are used, the call is forwarded to multiple alternative phone numbers helping a customer connect with assistance more quickly. Likewise, personal attendant features offer custom greeting and call routing options, while enhanced voicemail automatically converts messages to digital audio files for instant delivery via email. With advanced voice solutions, customers can get a big response when they call your small business.
4. Get a Business Address
You may work in your bedroom or basement, but that doesn’t mean your small business can’t have an impressive commercial street address. There are many creative ways to secure an upscale address, from co-working and office-sharing spaces, to mailbox rental solutions. Some bold small businesses project a big reach by securing commercial addresses in multiple cities.
Some small businesses project a big reach by securing commercial addresses in multiple cities.— [Tweet This!]
5. Spin Your Web
Eye-catching websites that once cost thousands of dollars to build can now be had for far less. Even better, sites can now be built with content management platforms that make it easy for you to update the site yourself. Knowing that three out of four U.S. consumers say a bad website negatively impacts their opinion of the brand,5 small businesses going big choose a done-right website as well as a quality hosting provider for their site and domain name.
Three out of four U.S. consumers say a bad website negatively impacts their opinion of the brand.— [Tweet This!]
6. Upgrade Your Email
Why look like a Yahoo-, or Gmail-user, when you can have email that features your business domain name? Solutions like Hosted Exchange provide email addresses with your domain branding (firstname.lastname@example.org) giving you the same appearance as the largest enterprise. Hosted Exchange, by the way, also offers big-business productivity tools with anytime, anywhere access to contacts, tasks, calendars and more through a web browser or mobile device.
7. Remember to Reward
Almost three out of four U.S. consumers say it is important to be rewarded by a brand for being a customer and two out of three like customer loyalty programs.6 There are a host of big-time loyalty solutions available to small businesses beyond the classic buy-ten-get-one punch card. Services like SpotOn, Perka and KeyRing offer mobile reward apps with social media integration. Research finds small businesses that send two to three communications per week to loyalty members see three times more customer visits and a sales increase of 15% to 50%.7
Almost three out of four U.S. consumers say it is important to be rewarded by a brand for being a customer.— [Tweet This!]
8. Become a Real Company
Many small businesses start out as sole proprietorships, that is, unincorporated businesses owned and run by one individual. Big businesses are almost always corporations due to the potential liability and tax benefits. It is easier than ever for small businesses to incorporate and become a “real company.” However, be sure to check with legal, accounting or tax resources to understand the financial and regulatory impacts for your situation.
9. Embrace E-commerce
Only one in four small business owners report having websites with e-commerce functionality.8 If you are one of the holdouts, you may be losing out. Online and non-store sales are expected to grow twice as fast as retail store sales this year.9 Indeed, U.S. small business e-commerce sales are forecast to top $100 billion this year, that’s more than the sales of Amazon and Ebay—combined.10
Online and non-store sales are expected to grow twice as fast as retail store sales this year.— [Tweet This!]
10. Turn into a Hotspot
More than 70 percent of U.S. consumers now own a smartphone or tablet.11 Not surprisingly, nearly two out of three consumers expect restaurants to offer WiFi access12 while almost half of retail shoppers say they would be more likely to choose a store or restaurant with WiFi.13 WiFi is a powerful way to attract and retain customers, but consider partnering with a turnkey hotspot service provider to minimize operating costs, complexity, customer support costs and security risks while maximizing the marketing potential.
11. Go Direct
Remember that you are not just aiming to be big for customers, but for your employees too. To attract and retain top talent, it helps for small businesses to offer features that workers have become accustomed to, like direct deposit. It is no fun for employees to spend time at the bank every payday. Nearly 75% of employed consumers in the U.S. receive their pay through direct deposit.14 Do yours? Online payroll services are often affordable with point-and-click simplicity, saving time and money, and providing your valued employees a big-company payday experience.
12. Get Personal
There are big benefits to being small, by the way. Many consumers and business customers choose small businesses for the individualized experience. In fact, personalized service is a top reason consumers prefer small businesses over large companies. For this reason and others, more than 60% of consumers say they will pay higher prices to support small businesses.15
Personalized service is a top reason consumers prefer small businesses over large companies.— [Tweet This!]
By adding a little big to your mix, you give customers more reasons to choose your small business and create opportunities to take a giant leap forward toward success.
About the Author: Michael Harris is principal consultant at Phoenix, Arizona-based Kinetic Strategies, Inc. Over the past 18 years, Michael’s small business has counted some of the world’s largest technology companies as clients.
Topics: SMALL BUSINESS
1 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, October 2014
2 SMB Group Top 10 SMB Technology Trends For 2014
3 American Express Small Business Monitor, July 2013
4 BrightLocal SMB Internet Marketing Survey 2014
5 Razorfish 2015 Global Digital Marketing Report
6 Razorfish 2015 Global Digital Marketing Report
7 SpotOn Research Report, May 2014
8 Capital One Spark Business Barometer, March 2015
9 National Retail Federation Economic Outlook, February 2015
10 Bigcommerce Democratization of Ecommerce Report, September 2014
11 2014 RJI Mobile Media Research Report
12 Technomic, cited in “Customer WiFi a win for restaurants,” Nation’s Restaurant News, October 24, 2014
13 The Wi-Fi Alliance Passpoint Survey, Wakefield Research, October 2014
14 NACHA Report, February 2014
15 AYTM Market Research, April 2014