There’s an old saying that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If you’re running a small business, a variation on that is to present an image of the company you want to be.
Digital technology makes it relatively easy and inexpensive for small businesses to present a professional image that is on par with competitors who have much bigger budgets and resources. This three-pronged approach will give your business a polished look, no matter where your customers find you.
Create the right website for your small business
Every if you’re not a web guru, it’s simple to set up a professional-looking small business website. Many cloud-based tools offer templated designs created by design professionals, and you can choose from dozens of formats to find one that reflects your business.
If you’re not tech savvy, a good first choice is Squarespace. It offers many simple website designs for businesses. With a few clicks, you’ll be able to integrate complex features like e-commerce and feedback forms.
For those with some web experience and who are on a budget, WordPress is another good option, especially if you plan to publish a blog. This platform began as a blogging tool, and that DNA still influences the way you’ll use it to set up your site. You can run WordPress on your own web space for free — a simpler approach is to let Wordpress.com do your small business web hosting for a small fee.
If you prefer to hire a professional to create and customize your website, you can find capable, reasonably priced freelancers on sites like Fiverr and Upwork. A detailed description of what you want — the more specific, the better — will help you find the right person for the job.
Create an online presence with social media
Most small businesses will benefit from setting up a simple presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that social media inspired nearly 40% of consumers to make a purchase. Small retail businesses especially can use Instagram to drive sales through photos of their products and merchandise.
Beyond setting up clean and straightforward social media accounts driven by beautiful photos, you can boost your business by using Facebook’s business-to-consumer messaging and direct messages on Twitter. Facebook has chatbots that can answer customer questions 24/7, though you’ll likely need some help from a web developer if you choose to use them.
Utilize cloud-based services
Even with today’s technologies, phone calls are still a popular way for customers to reach out to companies. Quick and effective phone service is a sign of high-quality customer service — an important trait for small businesses trying to gain a customer base.
Calling a company can be a challenging experience, according to research firm Tracitca, which reports customers will hang up after only a minute of being placed on hold. Consumers want a swift resolution when they call, and keeping your phone support on track is an essential step in appearing professional to your client base.
Cloud-based phone services offer automated assistants with personalized greetings and can quickly route calls and take messages. Alternatively, a hunt group feature will ring the first available person in your office. If you or your coworkers are frequently out of the office, use an app to set up your main number at the office to follow you on your cell phone when you’re on the go.
No matter how your customers interact with you, make sure you can quickly access order information in one step, so the customer doesn’t have to repeat it. This creates a personalized experience and cuts down on the frustration of having to keep and read long or complicated tracking numbers—two factors that will keep your clients happy and make them remember your business in a positive light.
You don’t need a big budget or a lot of employees to create a professional business persona that appeals to your customers. A few simple steps can help you craft an image and a reputation that will leave a lasting impression.