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Entrepreneur Diaries: Is your shop window ready to be seen?

Karen

Founder of writing company Travel Ink talks about the importance of crucial first impressions.

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October 10, 2013 6:01 by



By Karen Osman, founder and managing director of Travel Ink

There’s no denying that first impressions count and while I may not have been successful with my ‘Sex and The City’ vision, Carrie Bradshaw’s love of shopping certainly inspired this post. Your shop window is perhaps one of the most important tools you have when it comes to communicating your new business, and I’m not just talking about a website.

How you communicate on the phone, your email signature, even your voice mail message, all create crucial first impressions and that’s before you have even met the potential client.

Saying that, a company website is the first port of call for most people and is a must for every business. When starting out, not everyone has the funds to spend on a digital agency (although I do believe it’s a fantastic investment). However, there are some great tools to at least get the basics in place. It goes without saying that content is crucial. Make sure that there is a short, easy-to-understand paragraph about what you offer on the landing page, so that the reader understands in an instant what you do.

Remember you only have approximately three seconds to capture their attention – don’t make the customer search high and low as you will lose them to your competitor. Other recommended content includes examples of projects and clients you have worked with, testimonials, an outline of the process, a list of frequently asked questions, and so on.

In short, the more information you provide, the less you have to sell or clarify face to face.  Video is also a great option for your website, helping to generate higher search results.

People place a lot of emphasis on meetings in this region, which is why dressing the part and ensuring you have great sales tools, whether that’s a presentation, a portfolio of work and the ever-important business card, all combine to help seal the deal.

What I have learnt is that the tools don’t have to be fancy, but they do have to be good quality. People love visuals and they like to touch and feel things, so even in a service industry such as content, I still take magazines that we have contributed to or examples of brochures we have written. To showcase our web content, an iPad that the customer can tap through goes a long way to impressing.

Every touch point, from the minute a potential customer first hears about you to the signing of the contract, is an opportunity to showcase your wares. Here are just a few things to consider when planning your shop window (Manolos not included):

- How interesting is your website? Does it contain corporate speak and boring industry terms? Only 50 per cent of people will read a web page to the end – the rest get bored and go somewhere else. Make sure your content is engaging, humane and, above all, simple yet intelligent. Use facts and figures to support your claims mixed with a good balance of emotive content to appeal to different types of thinkers.

- Have you done an online cleanup of yourself? People do business with people (not companies), so you may want to reconsider or remove certain material – or at least adjust your settings!

- How many social media platforms are you using? There are more channels than ever before, so make sure you choose the right one for you. If you’re using several, make sure your company’s key messaging (I would suggest no more than three) is included in all of them for consistency.

- It’s been said that your business card is the most important tool – is yours a true reflection of your expertise? Don’t skimp on good quality paper and design, and if you have space add two or three bullet points about your services as it will remind people long after you have left them.

- Last but not least, protect your reputation in the market – business conducted on good values, good relationships and delivering on what you promise will always win out and stop existing customers window shopping elsewhere.



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