One great thing about the Web is the way it levels the playing field between big and small companies. A small local operation can have a Web presence as robust and impressive as a multi-national company, allowing it to appear much larger than it actually is.
Of course, size doesn’t always matter. Small companies can promote the fact that every customer gets royal treatment and personal service. What does matter is finding your market niche, knowing what’s important to your customers and fulfilling those customer needs. But sometimes, looking bigger than you are can open doors that might otherwise be shut.
For those times when you need to look big, here’s how to use marketing to give you the look you need.
Produce a Professional Web site
Understand what your customers and prospects are looking for and develop your Web site to meet their needs. You don’t need every bell and whistle, just those that your customers and prospects need: clear navigation, technical product content, a robust searching mechanism, and access to up-to-date white papers, articles, Webinars and other information that will educate and help your audience work smarter and faster.
Your Web site should also have a “style sheet” that provides a consistent look and feel to the entire site, including fonts, headlines, page layout and colors. Even the details count: spelling and punctuation, working links and compatibility with different Web browsers are important.
Build Visibility in Your Target Market
Big companies benefit from ample resources needed to maintain a consistent presence in the market. Maybe you don’t have the resources to be visible everywhere, but you can choose your hottest target markets and build a pervasive presence among your audience. Advertise in industry-specific e-newsletters, place banner ads on industrial sites your customers and prospects frequent, become listed in directories and online resources your customers and prospects use. In other words, go deep to penetrate specific segments of the market.
This is not only a way to look big, but it’s smart marketing too: focusing your resources on your best markets so when customers and prospects are searching for answers, your company will be found.
Become a Thought Leader in Your Industry
A great way to get your company noticed as an industry leader is to publish articles and become a spokesperson in your industry. You can pitch story ideas to editors of online and printed trade magazines, offer to be an information resource to editors when they are writing stories, and publish articles on Web sites and directories that accept third-party content.
The key to becoming a thought leader is to avoid promotional and sales-oriented messages and instead take an educational, informational approach to discussing challenges, ideas and trends in your industry.
Maintain a Consistent Visual Identity
Nothing says “small” like cheap business cards, amateur graphics or clashing colors. If you want to look big, develop a consistent and professional look for your business. Make all of your marketing materials look like they come from the same company: collateral (both print and PDF), Web site, presentations, business cards & stationery. Customers, prospects, partners and even competitors will come to recognize your look and know your company. And that’s good news.
Align with Industry Players
Just as no man is an island, no company is a lone ship at sea. Develop professional affiliations and partnerships with some of the larger companies in your industry and you can “draft” off them to look bigger. Many larger companies offer partner programs for companies with complementary products or services, and you can cultivate stronger relationships with resellers and distributors.
Fix Your Phone
Invest in an affordable phone system that answers with a professional greeting and provides callers with options. Press 1 for sales, 2 for customer service, 3 for technical support . . . we all know those menus. Even if most of the calls get forwarded to the same extension, you are able to create a sense of a larger company.
Maintain Some Transparency
The goal of looking bigger is not to deceive anyone; it’s to demonstrate that your small company is a significant and respected player in the market. Don’t stretch the truth about what your company can do and what markets it serves, but do use marketing to keep the playing field level and achieve the position and status your small company deserves.