Have you ever found yourself standing in a book store or novelty shop looking at one of those pictures with an image hidden in the graphics? You stare, and stare, and stare at one point in the picture until the image shows itself. In today's small business climate, getting your business recognized can be like staring into that picture. Customers make thousands of choices everyday that decide the success or failure of small businesses and it is up to you to bring your business into focus. How do you make your business standout? What is different about what you do and how you do it that drives customers to your door? What are you doing to get the name of your business out to your potential customers?
As Michael Gerber pointed out in "The E-Myth Revisited," you have to know who your customers are and what they want from your business. In the following bullets, you will gain a high level view of how to get your business recognized by your customers, their friends and the surrounding community.
- Create a Conversation - Interacting with your customers in real time is a key to business recognition. Whether it is a suggestion box in your place of business or interacting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or getting a review of the business on Yelp or Angie's List, speaking with your customers about what they want and how your business provides what they want shows your passion for your customers. When customers feel listened to and see their suggestions taking shape in a business, a bond is created that is not easily broken. Your customers will honor that bond by referring or bringing their friends and associates into your business for the same experience.
- Online Recognition - Today's internet is filled with search engines, social media sites, and business review sites. To increase your visibility, you need your customers to like, comment, share, tag, and check-in on your posted information. This will create higher visibility for the business and greater activity in news feeds and increase the opportunity for friends of your customers to see what is happening with your business. To close this loop, you want your business to do the same thing for its customers. Like, comment, share, tag, and check-in your customers so they can see that your business is serious about interacting with its customers.
- Offline Recognition - When was the last time your business sponsored a local soccer team or did a press release announcing the hiring of new staff members? There are a number of opportunities to recognize the business and its employees in the community. Write an article as a subject matter expert for a local publication. Sponsor a local event. Announce awards won by the business or the employees that work in the business. Join the Chamber of Commerce and sit on a committee. The list goes on and on but the one thing that remains clear is that to increase the visibility of your business, sitting back and doing nothing is not an option.
Getting your business recognized takes more than opening your doors and hanging a sign in the window. You have to collaborate with your customers, develop a presence, and get your name out in the community. B.C Forbes once said, "If you don't drive your business, your business will be driven out." This sentiment holds true here as well. If you do not drive the activities to get your business recognized your business will be lost in the noise created by other businesses.
What steps are you prepared to take in 2013 to get and keep your business recognized?