5 Ways to Build Up Your Business Image
This story appears in the May 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
You know you run a stellar business--now it's time to boost that image of yours so all the world knows it. Follow these five steps from Kim T. Gordon, president of National Marketing Federation Inc., a marketing consulting company, and author of Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars: The Top 50 Ways to Grow Your Small Business, to raise your business image to new heights.
1. Build a Terrific Website. Most prospective customers research on the internet before purchasing, notes Gordon, so make sure your website looks professional and is informative and easy to use. Employ search engine marketing to direct traffic to your website, and be sure to gear all content on the site to customers. "[Some companies] will put up a website that says, 'our mission, our clients, our services, etc.,'" notes Gordon. "Instead, focus on what the customer or client will get." If you do bathroom remodels, for instance, don't just say you're a remodeling company-say, "With your beautiful new bathroom remodeled by XYZ Corp., you'll enjoy a spa-like experience."
2. Create a Persuasive Ad Campaign. "Just like your website, your ad campaign has to focus on what the customer will get. There should be a point of differentiation," says Gordon. You want your advertising to send people to your website, where you can flesh out your message. And even without a huge budget, you can still hire professionals to help you. If you want to do billboard or theater-screen advertising, for instance, Gordon says the firm offering the ad space can either help you directly or recommend talent you can hire to create a great ad for that medium.
3. Use the Press to Tell Your Story. First, define what you want your target groups to know about your company. Then forge a media relations campaign-find out what media outlets your target market reads, watches and listens to, then become familiar with those outlets. "Tailor your pitch based on what that particular media outlet needs from you," says Gordon. "You'll improve your business image when you land coverage because you'll have highly credible news and information disseminated based on your central message."
4. Target Influentials and Influencers. Some people have great influence over your target audience-be they reviewers, bloggers or people at the top of their industry whom others look to for expertise. "You need to create relationships with influencers," says Gordon. "You may even want to supply them with tools and materials they can use directly with your prospects so they can influence them positively toward using your business."
5. Get One-on-One with Customers. Direct contact with your target audience is key to boosting your brand image. You might try experiential marketing, where you provide free trials of your product or service. Or you could invite your target audiences to a special event, says Gordon, where they'll "actually have this one-on-one experience with your product at a fun event where you're controlling the environment." Finally, get involved in your local community with causes and charities that appeal to your constituents.