Getting your small business’ image right can be one of the hardest things you have to do but, if done properly, it will be really rewarding. The problem is that image is a subjective concept and what you perceive as tasteful or professional may not be seen in the same light by someone else. We are all very specific to what we like and don’t like about different adverts, logos, songs, sounds and the list goes on. Don’t try and be everything to everyone. If you have defined your target audience, it should help you in moving in the right direction.
Even though image can be hard to pin down, it is still one of the main reasons why a customer will choose you over the competition. Your customer may not even realize it, but they use the business’ image to help them select what they want. It is difficult to choose between different things if they are quite similar, so people will rely on image to make up for negligible differences in things like cost and service. Something as simple as your business card may very well effect your ability to get business. You need to find the middle ground that first and foremost is in line with your business positioning. Then make sure that how you represent it is appealing to your target market.
Appeal to your customer’s senses
Customers like to think they are educated about products and make their purchasing decisions based on careful thought, but much of what we use to decide about what to buy is determined by a company’s image, and that of its products or services. When we first encounter a company via an ad or the like, it can have a huge influence on our later purchase decisions. It is similar to how we judge people who we’ve never met before based on their clothing and grooming.
Our first impressions of a small business or product are just as important to our purchasing habits. Certainly, this initial impression can change once we get more facts, but that first look is very important considering how prone customers are to impulse buying.
A carefully crafted image helps define how best to appeal to the market, and is useful in all manner of marketing. The impression a company creates via its image helps customers differentiate between yours and a competitor’s products, and narrows down their choices. If these features and benefits are presented during their first encounter with your product, your image will strengthen the customer’s belief that you really do have something they want. This could be the first time they see an advert of yours, meet one of your sales representatives, hear your radio commercial or come into your offices.
Learn how to craft your small business’ image effectively
You may now be wondering how you should go about picking and establishing your image. Well, in many ways there is little you can do because, in the final analysis, the image takes shape in your customer’s mind and will not appear the same to everyone. As mentioned above, firstly make sure that it is in line with your overall business positioning. You should have established your own guidelines for all of your imagery including logos, branding, uniforms and the like.
If you understand your customers’ nature and needs, you will have a better chance of defining the image you want. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to conduct expensive market research campaigns, so you will have to pay attention to what your customer has to say via your sales figures and direct feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask some of your customers from time to time or before you go ahead and print those expensive leaflets.
If you follow the process from the start as in setting your company vision and mission, defining your objectives and then developing a strategy around achieving those objectives, you should have in the process defined your target market. This target market will dictate how you execute your creative.
There is no perfect science behind the process, but if you go through the process methodically, then you should be able to come pretty close to what is right for your business.
Remember, as part of the mix of being a successful business, image is up there with the important elements.