Your business image starts with you and it’s been said that image is indeed everything when it comes to business. Business Image is what people think when they think about you or your business. The word did not originate from public relations firm and your business image is more of your business than that of your public relations company, should you have one: it’s a reflection of what you do and how you do it when you do it.
From your business card to your handshake, your attire, communication, posture… Daniel J. Boorstin said it so well, “An image is not simply a trademark, a design, a slogan, or an easily remembered story. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service.”
A good percentage of your business success is projection and the success of your business is dependent on the image that you project. A business goal is to attract clients and grow customer base along with its bottom-line – the money, hence the need to project an image that attracts potential customers and retains existing ones, rather than repel them.
Here are some things to consider about business image:
Dress to impress. People are quick to take others at face value believing that what they see is what they’ll get. First impression matter a lot and should not be taken for granted, especially of first meetings. Looking successful is definitely necessary to be successful as a result, you gain customer trust which could result in a potential business, and suffice it to say that a successful image leads to increased sales. Dress the way you want to be addressed and like the Boys Scout motto, always be prepared. Always be prepared to give out your business cards, always be prepared to meet new clients. Your image includes the way you look all the time and it is a reflection of your business.
Know your product. When it comes to business image, details matter a lot. Not only does it build customer confidence, it also tells your customer that you care enough to pay attention to details. Have you ever met a person who tries to sell something that they are not knowledgeable about? What was your first reaction? It’s a customer turn off when you do not know in details about a brand or product/service that you profess to provide. As a business person, it is important to identify key characteristics of your product or service and then highlighting them. Your customers want to see you as a very knowledgeable about your business by providing expert information. It’s very easy to run an obsolete business especially when you are not making any effort to stay updated with the market trends. Do yourself and your customers a favor by staying informed about your business always.
Make it look good. Be it your company website, logo, brochure, be sure to create a professional look and feel that suits your business. In addition to lending credibility to your business, it invites customers in. Your website should be one that is easy to navigate and should have a clear message of what your business is about. Rather than look tacky, do seek the service of a professional in the process of branding your business.
Carry your employees along. This is one major thing for business person that have employees. It is imperative that your employees speak the same “language” as you when it comes to your company image. They have to buy into your vision and love their job enough to represent the business confidently. When this happens, the employees will keep the business image alive everywhere they go; when dealing with customers and even selling the image of the company to their family and friends. There is a local mom & pop shop that I go to occasionally, the last time I went there, they had moved to a bigger space across the street and as soon as I worked in I heard, “Hello! Good Morning!” I was a bit startled as I wasn’t expecting it, but when I heard her say the same thing to other customers walking in, I realized this could be a new “tradition.” It sure felt good and welcoming and I hope it’s not just a new location “fever” but that they keep it up.
Nowadays, there are lots of educated consumers who have many choices when it comes to whom to do business with that a business image is exceedingly important to customers. While the goal of it is to attract new customers, it is also determines whether or not the customer will return to you in the future. I’m a firm believer that while I am excited about my first business with a customer, I’m even more excited when the customer returns in the future. Customers will leave you for a lot of reasons and this can be easily avoided when you anticipate your customers. Know what they want and give them exactly that. To keep your image alive with your customers, remember to periodically talk about your image to them.~Nina Ijere-Otuka~