The Initial Perception Of Your Company
As you may know, we offer business consulting to clients, and have for a long time.
One of the big reasons (along with poor accounting) small companies fail is because they are not very good at acquiring new customers. They’re really good at laying carpet, or being a dentist, or running a restaurant, but they’re terrible at getting the customers they need to stay in business. And, when we talk to them about their customer acquisition process, many times, we have to tell them that, “You are not paying enough attention to the initial perception of your company”.
What does this mean? Why is this so important?
Well, think about it from a customer’s perspective. All of us are a customer of many kinds of firms, whether we’re shopping for groceries, or buying a house, or having our clothes dry cleaned. Let’s say you unexpectedly had to go visit your brother for a week to help him recover from an auto accident. You have a dog that is like your child; she means that much to you. You need to board her somewhere, and this is all new to you – you have never boarded her anywhere before. You are in uncharted waters.
You go to Google, and type in “dog boarding”, or, “dog kennels”, or, maybe, “dog daycare”. Right? And the search begins, and so does the due diligence regarding where your dog is going to go, because this is a very important decision to you.
And, you look at the search results. So, first of all, you won’t see any providers that don’t have a presence on the internet. They may be just what you’re looking for, but if they don’t have an internet presence, you won’t know they exist.
Second, you’re going to look first at the companies that come up first in the search results, and these will be companies with an active website and/or company page on Google+ or Yelp, because that’s the way the search engines work.
Third, you’re going to look for reviews from previous customers,
because if they were happy, there’s a good chance you will be happy, too. Third-party reviews on independent sites like Yelp and Google+ and Thumbtack are gold; they are worth thousands and thousands of dollars in marketing. You will discount heavily any reviews on the provider’s own website, because who knows if those are even real?
Now, you start calling or emailing the ones that look promising. If you call up a provider, and hear this, “Mom, someone’s on the phone for you!”, that is going to make you think that this is not a professional outfit you’re dealing with. If you click on the email address, and the email is something like dogboardingbydoug@comcast. net, that is also going to make you think that this is not much of a real company (more on this here).
You’re going to want to call a dedicated business phone, and hear someone brand the greeting with their business name. You’re going to want to email doug@citydogboarding. com, a domain that has the name of the business. These sorts of things give you more confidence about this unknown provider.
Now, let’s get back to you, the business owner. You would not believe how many small business owners have said to us,”Oh, that’s ridiculous! None of that stuff matters!”
These are the same business owners that came to us in the first place, complaining that how hard it is to get customers. It does matter. It’s not the magic bullet to kill your customer acquisition problems, but it’s basic stuff you need to do. The initial perception of your company can make or break a potential customer contact.
Your own domain name, with an email branded with the domain name can be had for about $150 a year. A dedicated phone number can be had from Skype for less than $20 per year. It’s free from Google+. Company pages of Yelp or LinkedIn or Google+ or Thumbtack or Yelp or Youtube,etc. are all free.
Make your company look good. It’s worth it in terms of the returns to the business.