Big businesses have a lot of advantages over their smaller rivals: established reputations, lower operating costs, large advertising budgets and media attention. Competing with the big brands can seem impossible, but remember that even the largest companies started out small. If you have a product or service that consumers love, you’re on the right track.
The next step is to make your brand look bigger while you work on achieving real growth. Here are some tips that can help you look bigger than you really are.
1. Build a Website
Nearly half of U.S. small businesses don’t have a website, which is surprising given the benefits a good website can bring: it can make you look professional, showcase your work and display customer testimonials. Websites are inexpensive and have never been easier to build, so there’s really no excuse not to have one. For a modern, professional look, hire a website designer and work with an experienced writer or editor to create engaging copy.
2. Get a Logo
As well as having a website, all the big companies have a logo, and you should, too. People notice images before words, so a logo can make your brand instantly recognizable. Outsource a logo design on Fiverr or post your requirements on CrowdSpring and choose a design from a large variety of professionally created submissions.
3. Become a Thought Leader
A website and a logo can’t transform you into a thought leader in your niche, industry or community. For that, you need to publish articles that display your expertise in trade magazines, industry websites and on LinkedIn. Offer yourself as a speaker at industry forums and conventions. Your company may be small, but you can quickly amplify your reputation and your brand to compete with your larger competitors.
4. Invest in a Quality Video
Logos, articles and speeches can only take you so far. Fortune 500 companies know that, so they also use videos to promote their services or products. An animated explainer or whiteboard video explaining what you do focuses potential customers on your product or service, not your size. It’s also more entertaining for customers than reading Web copy or brochures. Yes, it can be costly — $1,500 and up if you use a boutique firm and $5,000 or more for a recognized video production company. But videos are a great way of capturing consumers’ attention, which is why large companies use them.
5. Hire a Virtual Assistant
Even if you’re a sole practitioner, have someone else answer the phone for you and reply to emails, as the CEO of a larger company would do. Besides making your company look bigger, a VA can relieve you of tedious chores, freeing you to work on developing and growing your business.
6. Develop a Presence on Social Media
One of the most helpful things your VA can do is manage your social media accounts. If you don’t have them already, open accounts for your business on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you have physical products, consider Pinterest and Instagram as well. A Twitter study found that 75 percent of people who follow a small business and read its tweets feel better about the company, so it’s worth maintaining a consistent online presence. Setting up accounts is the easy part — for social media to be effective, your VA will also need to identify and grow followers, post regularly and engage with visitors to your social pages.
7. Start a Content Marketing Program
Like active social media accounts, a regularly updated blog can engage your customers. Set up a blog on your site and post at least once a week. Your posts can be short — 300 to 400 words and a link to a more comprehensive mainstream article will do the job. The point is to write about topics that solve problems or make life easier for customers you are trying to attract. Don’t forget to share your blog posts on your social media accounts to increase their range.
8. Make the Leap to a Business Internet Package
When you’re operating a small business online, connectivity has a direct impact on your business’s bottom line. Most home internet packages aren’t reliable enough for business use—especially if you plan to promote your business through live video streaming on social media or hosting a live webinar. After all, you want potential customers to remember the content you shared, not the time they spent waiting for your video to load!
9. Get a Prestigious Business Address
As well as perfecting your online presence, you also need to make your business look big in the real world. You may be working out of a home, garage or warehouse, but your customers don’t need to know that. Buy a business mailing address that your contacts can use to get in touch with you. The services that sell these business addresses will forward your mail to your home. Some even offer a greeting service that can deal with people who turn up at the site.
10. Book a Professional Meeting Space
Need to meet with clients, but don’t want them to see your humble home office? Most major cities have co-working buildings with affordable meeting rooms. Reserve a space for occasional client conferences or rent by the week or month if you plan to use the space more often.
11. Invest in Business Telephone Service
In their personal lives, more and more consumers are relying on cellular service as their only telephone line. But as a business owner, this approach can limit a prospect’s trust in your business, costing you precious leads! Adding business telephone service to your home-based business internet package will allow you to take conference calls, connect alarm systems, process credit cards, and set up voice attendant services, creating more peace of mind for both you and your customers.
12. Change Your Business Name
Instead of Ronald Smith Marketing, register your business as Ronald Smith & Associates, Ronald Smith & Company, or the Ron Smith Group. Companies feel more confident giving large contracts to a business that sounds big. Eventually, you may get enough