As you focus on growing your business, do you consider the relevance of the way your business is perceived as important? Your communication and the image you present, both personally and your business itself, create your first impression, and unfortunately, sometimes your last impression. Studies about people reveal that most people make their decisions within the first 30 seconds to two minutes. We have long heard "you only have one chance to make a first impression".
While you may have impeccable skills and qualifications to perform a service or sell a product, you may not make it past the "first impression" if you have not given serious attention to your professional image. You may not only be cutting yourself short of an initial sale, but also repeat and referral business. Your goal in personal and business presentation is to avoid negative distractions to move others past the outside and focus on the inside, so that the attention is on you, your business and what you have to say. You want to be noticed, recognized and have a positive influence on others.
While opinions will differ on the relevance of importance of the different image aspects depending on your business type and products, it is important that you and your business convey success. If you fail to present a sharp, successful, professional image, why should your prospect expect to get anything different from your product or service? Like it or not, your personal and business presentation can distinguish your abilities, credibility and success by most. If you are remiss in the details, you may be losing significant business.
1. Dress for success -
if you look like a professional, you will be perceived and valued as a professional and inspire confidence. Be simple and professional and avoid extreme fashion that can be distracting.
2. Phone Appearance -
What is the perception of your callers? How is your phone answered? Several studies have indicated that a very high percent of the opinions people form about us, when speaking to us on the telephone, are based on the tone of our voice. Only a small percentage is based on the actual words we use. Be sure your initial greeting is professional. Even better, have your calls professionally answered by a trained professional that radiates a positive tone and spirit. If callers like what they hear, chances are your business will be perceived as knowledgeable and confident.
3. Voice Mail Messages -
When leaving a message for someone, leave a complete message including your name and phone number. Be concise and give them enough information so they can respond to you without talking to you first, but do not ramble. Speak slowly and repeat your number at the end of the message so the message does not have to be replayed to get your number.
4. Logo -
A good logo is important for branding value and recognition. A clean, simple unique logo is usually the best way to go for longevity and success. A logo should reflect your company's personality. This is not something you should do yourself. A professional artist will make sure your design reflects your corporate personality, while maintaining a clean and professional look.
5. Marketing Collateral -
Appearance is reality in marketing and it must look as professional as you. All of your materials should follow fundamental design principles, should look clean and simple, have a branded feel, and use professional images. It is also a good idea to appoint one person in charge of all collateral, so that branding and your image is consistent.
6. Website -
The look and feel of your website sets the mood and readies the visitor to listen. It defines your image as a player in your industry. It should be simple and elegant and guide the visitors eyes to what is important. It is worth the investment to hire a professional to ensure you do not fail to engage the visitor, or risk coming across as technically unsophisticated. Your website may be the visitor's only impression of who you are.
7. Business Address -
Nothing adds credibility to a website better than showing the physical address of the business on the contact page or on the page footers. A physical business address versus a home address or Post Office box is important to your visitors' perception in determining if they believe you are a reliable business. Additionally, you should have a professional private meeting place and avoid business meetings in the public coffee shops and restaurants.
8. Email Address -
Take the time to secure a domain name and email address. Using generic addresses such as @yahoo.com, @gmail.com, etc. does not project a successful business image. People may think you are out of touch, tentative about your business or not technically sophisticated.
9. Written Communications -
The transparency of a professional document or response affords a company some of the best exposure they can get. Mistakes that are not caught and get into print or published online reflect badly on not only the writer, but on the entire organization or publication as well. When a document has inaccuracies, readers tend to distrust everything, including the statistics, opinions, and facts. Be sure that you check your facts, proof read, spell check and find an objective reader to check over your work before it is released.
10. Email Etiquette -
Much like the rules for business letters, be sure that you use proper grammar and punctuation. Avoid abbreviations and symbols such as smiley faces; they are not perceived as professional in business communications. Fill the email address of the person it is addressed to last, so you do not accidentally send it before you are ready. Never write an email when you are upset; use the "sleep on it" rule so you do not write something you will later regret.
Your initial image affects whether or not someone will return to you in the future which is important for immediate and repeat business, as well as referrals; it can really add up. Communicate the image you want to project to your employees and reinforce it regularly. Your business will transform into an image of success, credibility and professionalism; a company that people want to do business with.
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