Competing with the big guys can be a challenging venture. When you are time-strapped (or cash-strapped), it can be hard to get your message out and present a professional appearance that rivals what your larger competitors are able to do.
The good news is that with modern technology, it is getting easier for the little guy (or gal) to appear larger than life. Whether you are operating from a Boston high rise or a home office in your basement, here are eight tips to help your business appear bigger than it really is.
8 Tips to Make Your Small Business More Competitive
1. Have a Responsive Website Design
It can’t be overstated. The appearance and usability of your website speaks volumes about your business. Much like an old, dilapidated building with a dated, broken sign or outdated merchandise in the window will deter most shoppers from even entering, a poorly designed, static website gives the impression that you don’t care enough about your customers to offer them the best experience possible or that your business is not in good shape. In addition to being a deterrent, Google now penalizes websites that are not responsive, which can bury you far below your competition with mobile-friendly websites in search engine results.
2. Take Advantage of Blogging/Social Media
According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Report, companies that blog receive 97% more inbound links than those that don’t. B2B marketers with active blogs receive 67% more leads than those without blogs. If you are a small business owner looking to be recognized as an industry leader while using one of the most cost-effective forms of inbound marketing to generate leads and improve your standings in search results, a business blog is a great vehicle to get you there.
To help those blog posts get more traction, incorporate social media into your inbound marketing strategy. Social media can help you expand your reach, build relationships, and boost your online visibility. Be sure to post frequently and share your blog posts across all of your social media channels.
Tip: Set up a Google for Business account and start posting using your Google+ business page. While Facebook (and many other) posts will not appear in Google search engine results, your G+ posts will.
3. Use Consistent Branding
With all that you have to do, it can be easy to have a disjointed, “on-the-fly” approach to creating marketing materials and campaigns. This can hurt your brand over time by confusing customers and giving would-be customers the wrong impression about your business.
A consistent branding approach, including the logo, colors, font, and tagline, should be incorporated throughout all of your marketing channels. This will not only give you a more professional appearance, but also help you stand out from your competitors, strengthen your identity, and build the trust of would-be and current customers.
4. List Your Company in Online Business Directories
Get noticed online by submitting your company information to various online business directories. Here is a list of directories to start with:
- Google and Bing search engines (Bing powers Yahoo, so no need to submit your site to Yahoo)
- Google My Business (adds your company information to Google Maps, Search, and Google+)
- Internet Yellow Pages
- Yahoo! Local (scroll down for free listing option)
- Bing Places
5. Utilize a VoIP system
Sound professional whether you are in or out of the office with a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP call management system). How does it work? It takes your phone’s audio signals and converts them to digital data which can then be transferred over the internet and routed directly to your phone. Features vary by provider, but you generally get local and toll free numbers (or port your existing ones), auto-receptionist, extensions with voicemail, call recording, screening, forwarding, internet fax capabilities, and more. Prices and specific features vary. RingCentral, VOIP.com, and Vonage for Business are all examples of well-rated VoIP providers.
6. Incorporate Your Business
Incorporating your small business not only helps protect you from personal liability, but it also gives you a more professional, stable image in the eyes of customers. It also comes with some distinct advantages and disadvantages which are worth noting before moving forward.
7. Use a Virtual Mailbox
If you have a home-based business, you can create a more professional looking business address using a virtual mailbox. An online postal mailbox gives you a real street address and, unlike a traditional P O box, allows you to view your scanned mail online where you can choose to have it stored, shipped, or shredded. From a customer standpoint, a physical address can help build trust and confidence with customers who feel that you are here to stay.
8. Accept Online Payments
Give a more high-tech appearance and added convenience for your customers by providing a good invoicing system and payment processor. Companies like Intuit allow you to send payment requests through their website to your customers with a link where they can pay securely online. You can also have an e-commerce button created to put on your website or have a custom pay link which you can add anywhere (Facebook, Craigslist, etc.).
These are just some ways to make your business appear bigger than it really is to help you compete with larger companies that have larger budgets. Lastly, remember that customer service goes a long way. Once you draw in potential customers, you as a small business owner can offer a level of customer care that larger businesses will not.
Do you need help with a responsive website to appeal to a wider audience and improve your standing in search engine results pages (SERPS)? We’re here for you. Our Boston web design and internet marketing experts can help you with an attractive new website, content creation, and internet marketing strategies to help you increase leads and customer conversion rates. Contact us today to get started or request a free quote.
*Image © Depositphotos.com/Mikdam