This is a guest article by Fred Richards.
Small companies often struggle to increase their visibility. Overshadowed by huge national corporations, it can be hard to poke your small company’s head out in the warm of public attention. Fear not though, because hard isn’t impossible. You just need to get creative, and tap into your inner brand.
Here are a few easy and basic steps you should be doing to help increase your company’s visibility:
Step One: Self Recognition
The first step is to recognize your own worth. Sit down, pencil and paper in hand, and write down what you do differently than the competition. Keep in mind that every company ever claims to treat the customer the best. So customer service isn’t enough (although you obviously should have great customer service!). Write what really sets you apart, what key service or difference you offer.
Next, emphasize this particular bit of awesomeness you have to offer. Prepare to make it the vocal point of your company. When they think of you, they should think of this. Make sure all employees know about your key difference and that it is offered on every level of service you provide. Make sure it’s included throughout the entire being of your company, on every level at every process. This is what people mean when they talk about branding. Once you have your company’s identity set in stone (and a recognizable logo to go with it) you’re ready to share it with the world.
Step Two: Online Presence
This is a step all too easily overlooked. Companies throw up a website and think the job is done. Get with it! It’s freakin’ 2012! You need a serious online presence and the ability to attract attention. Do yourself a favor and go read about web presence and traffic. You’ll be amazed at how technical these things actually are.
Get (inter)active in social media. Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, LinkedIn. These are all your friends. And, how you’ll make friends (and customers too). It takes remarkably little time each day to update these few things in order to be perceived as active and social. And although they don’t drive a ton of web traffic, they will help build a sense of community and brand in your business. Don’t forget to promote your company’s identity (brand), and distance yourself from the competitors. This is really important.
If you have the gumption, try starting a blog. Get a good base of articles about your business and all the working cogs that make it run, especially the issues challenging it. Then, invite guest posting and comments. Get real discussions going and you’ll be surprised how much traffic suddenly visits your website.
The whole idea here is to be easy to find. That way, anyone interested in your business will have every opportunity in the world to find out about it. The involved customer is a happy and loyal customer.
Step Three: Follow Through
Now you’re ready to tackle the next step, showing the public your worth. You’ve determined your own self-worth, readied your web presence, and are ready for the public at large. This is the point where you can present a unified and worthwhile brand to the world at large. This is where most small companies are stuck, in a rut, using television ads, radio, and newspaper pages to try and push their product. This is the time to be creative!
Try a different approach. Word of mouth is one of the strongest tools there are, and the hardest to build. To get that heady buzz going, you need to stand out. The greater the word of mouth, the wider the recognition for your company. And the greater the recognition, the better off your company is.
Try performing a useful service at a local event. Provide T-shirts to youth athletics, hand out cold water at a public summer event, donate time to community cleanup projects. Be visible in the community, serving a useful, positive function. People will want to provide your company their business when you so richly deserve it.
How about a seminar or class where you teach the community something you think they’d enjoy learning that also directly involves the inner-working of your company? This is a great way to target a strong core demographic like families. People love peeking behind the smoke and mirrors and learning something new.
Step four: Build Upon Your Base
At this point, you should have a strong base of followers, customers, and friendly faces. A veritable plethora of interactions have occurred, and you’ve drummed up a real name for yourself and company. This is when you need to ask for referrals, tell people to leave comments on the web, and in general ask your customers to help get the word out. A simple “tell your friends” can go a long way. Because at the end of the day, your customers’ promotion will do more for you than you ever will be able to do. And don’t forget to stay true to your brand! When you start to blend in with your competitors is when you’ll start to lose customers.
Hopefully these tips will help you increase your company’s visibility. What have you found helpful in improving your company’s visibility? What hasn’t been helpful?
Fred Richards is a custom designer and online publisher for Mycroburst.com who enjoys blogging about logo, web, and graphic design.