By Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide
“Bigger is better” is a philosophy many people apply to various aspects of their life. But in reality, as we know, some of the best things in life come in small packages. This includes small businesses. Nowadays there is a huge push to buy locally — and yet many people still turn to the big brands because they’re familiar, correlating with the assumption that greater size equates to more expertise or better prices.
As you know, neither is necessarily true. But as a small business, this perception can be hard to compete with. One way to counter the perception that “big” is equal to “value” or “expertise” is to create an illusion of “bigness” for your small business to help draw in customers. Here are six methods to help make your small business seem bigger.
1. Create a ‘big’ name
One of the most critical mistakes you can make when it comes to creating an illusion of “big” is using your own name to represent your business’ identity. This screams small business, and you want to aim higher. If you absolutely must include your name, think along the lines of “J. Smith and Associates Design,” or “Smith, Smith, and Jones Consulting, LLC.” These names make it sound as if you have partners and/or a large team.
2. Use proper web domain and email hosting
Never, ever, use free email and blog templates for business correspondence and a virtual doormat. This not only looks unprofessional; it also tells consumers and partners you can’t afford to keep a proper web domain. Take the time and money to buy your own domain to host your website.
Also make certain that your own and your employees’ email addresses include both a first and last name. If you only create “Bob@BobsConsulting.com,” people will know there is only one “Bob.” Remember, the idea is to create the impression of having a large team on staff. On the other hand, an email such as “BobSmith@SmithConsulting.com” implies that your company is much greater than a one- or two-man outlet.
3. Automate wherever you can
Personal service is always best for business, right? A recent development says that might no longer be the case: Automated responses have come to signal to potential customers that a company is big enough not to handle everything in person — and that’s inspiring confidence.
Automation gives the perception that a company is so large, it must rely on machines to keep up with demand. If demand is high, then the quality of products or services must be good, right? Maybe or maybe not — but it’s the perception that matters in this case. Either way, jump onto the automation bandwagon by computerizing as much as you can. It not only makes you look more professional, but also will help you conserve hours of staff time and effort.
As smart tech continues to mature, you can integrate some amazing capabilities; for example, you can install an AI-based solution to help with customer service. Modern AI chatbots are so “smart” that many people mistake them for a human, and even if they don’t, customers typically love the rapid responses and assistance they receive from AI-based solutions.
A side note: While you’re weighing automation options, keep in mind that any technology you purchase to use for business purposes is tax-deductible. Be sure to keep track of your capital and operational expenses so you’ll have your documentation in order come tax time.
4. Consider relocation
If you find yourself struggling to swim upstream in your local market, you could always consider relocation. For instance, identify either a less-populated city or one that isn’t saturated in your market, and consider moving there. Many cities, such as Tampa, offer plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs and are an affordable place to put down roots. The money you’ll save on rent can be used towards buying and investing in additional assets and resources to grow your company.
5. Expand your promotional efforts
If you want to look big, you want to be big, and this means establishing a memorable presence. The more your name is seen, the more likely people are to remember it. Try these tips:
- Get active on social media. Carefully choose your marketing channels and focus on those. It’s worthless to create numerous accounts if you don’t have the time, staff, or energy to be active on all of them. One active social media account is far more valuable than five inactive accounts. Take the time to gain followers and grow and cultivate these relationships.
- Invest in high-quality promotion materials. Consider investing in a wide-format printer so you can create your banners, signs, pamphlets, and other marketing materials in-house.
- Attend conferences and trade shows. Be sure you push for a prominent booth location and be ready to make an unforgettable impression during networking events.
(Tip: Remember to make a checklist so you don’t forget important details. You don’t want to look amateurish by being unprepared. Instead, make it look like you had an entire marketing team at your disposal to design your booth and materials).
Promoting yourself through various channels is critical if you want to reach a “big time” status, even if you’re still currently a small enterprise.
6. Use the royal ‘we’ – avoid ‘I’
As a small business owner, when talking about your company, you probably refer to your staff (aka yourself) as “I,” which is not surprising since you pour your heart, soul, and pocketbook into your company. Unfortunately, referring to your team as yourself doesn’t achieve the desired effect; it gives away your company’s one-person status. Instead, on marketing materials, on websites and social media, and in correspondence, always refer to your company as “we.” You’ll give the impression of being part of a larger team.
Did you know small businesses account for more than 99% of all businesses in this country? While the number of small businesses operating across the U.S. represents a remarkable portion of American business, the fame of the big names often overshadows this fact and diminishes the presence of less sizable companies. While the advantages of “big” might be waning in the hearts of consumers, the game is still all about exposure, which big businesses still dominate.
Despite the fact that Americans prefer and trust small businesses, until the “little guys” get the prominence we deserve, we have to be strategic and elevate ourselves to compete on the same level with the big boys. Try these tips to make your business look bigger, and see what a difference they can make!