Q: How can I make my startup seem more legitimate and reputable? I want to be able to compete with the big guys and appear larger than I am.
- Will Caldwell
A:The first step to appearing bigger than you are is to project confidence.
If you believe in your company’s long-term vision and potential for growth, that confidence will come through in your conversations with partners. Your own confidence in your company’s ability to handle large contracts will help give your potential customers confidence too.
Here are four ways legitimize your brand and compete with the big dogs:
1. Prioritize good design. If you have a business-to-business, or B2B, company, then this most likely means you should focus on having a clean and professional-looking website. Anyone business that's considering giving you a contract will visit your website and make a snap judgment about the dependability of your company based primarily on how polished your website appears.
Related: Have a Killer Business Idea? Here’s How to Vet It
This all comes down to finding a designer that understands the latest trends and has the talent and experience to execute on them. You also need to have a clear vision of the image you want to project, and be able to communicate that to the designer you select.
2. Know your pitch. As an entrepreneur, you are always pitching to investors -- and even more often, to customers. Craft a concise and compelling pitch, and practice it again and again. The better you know your routine, the more effective you’ll be at convincing others to buy in.
Related: The 6 Best Entrepreneurial Habits for Rapid Growth
3. Get press coverage. Articles in reputable blogs, newspapers or magazines will give your company immediate credibility. Of course, there is always a chicken-and-egg problem for early-stage startups trying to get media attention. It can be difficult to get journalists to pay attention when you are just starting out.
Focus on finding journalists who cover trends in your industry, and use steps one and two above to sell them on your company. It will probably take some time, but with perseverance, you will eventually get a few of them to write. Of course, anytime you get media coverage, link back to it from your snazzy website.
4. Build references. As you grow, maintain a network of references you can use to close more deals. Even if you start with smaller companies as references, having a few happy customers who are willing to wax enthusiastic about your services or product to larger potential clients will be invaluable.
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What are your tips for making a brand appear larger? Share your thoughts in the comments section.