No doubt you started your business to make a change in your industry, make a change in your life, make some money, or even all three. Some of us took the time to plan out every detail before launching our businesses, and some of us just launched on a wing and a prayer, hitting the ground running.
There is no right way or wrong way to launch your business because every business or brand is a unique entity at the end of the day. But there are some pitfalls that many new entrepreneurs can fall into that make their brand or business appear unprofessional and hurt their chances of success. The good news is that most of them are cheap and easy to implement.
1- Be the master of your domain
Almost all businesses in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and beyond need a website to remain relevant in today’s modern world, but it isn’t everything. Some companies can do very well with just a Facebook or Instagram page. Still, there is one thing that all companies should invest in to remain professional: A Domain Address and Profesional Email.
Having a .com, .com.au or .net.au domain at the end of your email is a basic level of professionalism that customers have in their subconscious. You may be using a Gmail, Hotmail or Outlook address for your email because it was free, but having it publicly listed on either your website or social media account does more harm than you think.
Using a free email address like this is unprofessional because it makes you look cheap. It is considered a simple entry level requirement to be a business. Just how cheap? Purchasing a .com.au domain for your Australian business should only set you back $20 a year. Email hosting will cost you anywhere from $30 a year for a single email address to $80 a year for unlimited email addresses. So for as little as $50 a year, your business can stand out as a professional company, not to mention having a domain is the first step to having a website.
Speaking of websites, this leads us to the second factor that can make your business or brand appear unprofessional in your customer’s eyes. Using a DIY website builder has many negatives that we won’t get into here, but luckily for you, we’ve already written an article about that here. So why bring up DIY website builders? Some of them, like Wix, have a free plan that gives you a Wix sub-domain. As I mentioned above, not having your own domain will give your brand an air of unprofessionalism, even if you manage to build a good looking ‘free’ website.
2- Lack of authority!
The world is now digital, plain and simple. If your brand hasn’t got at least a website and some social media channels, you will be giving business away to the competition. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to spend $10K on some flashy monster of a website and employ a team to handle your social media content, but you do need to be doing something to build your authority regularly.
So how do you build trust and authority in a bloated market? It’s all about providing content that educates your niche. Don’t have a niche? Well, you need to define one because it is only getting more and more competitive in our modern digital world. But how do you build authority with content?
The aim of the game is to A) have a website that looks modern and, more importantly, is set up correctly, so it is fast loading for SEO and looks excellent for the client. Then B) produce content that educates and informs customers on points they either might not be aware of or deep dive into topics that they are.
This is done most commonly through blogging or adding new pages to a website (you can also achieve it with video content )which will help your SEO because Google loves content. But from here, you can start using your social media to push people back to your website to read this content. Unfortunately, too many people use their social media to say, hey, look at this great product which gets old fast. So instead, your social media posts should be broken up into content link-backs, product information, videos and human stories.
You will not gain authority overnight, but constantly doing this will get you significant growth over time, especially if your competitors aren’t doing it! If you haven’t got a flair for good design or don’t have the time to learn, try outsourcing your content to a graphic designer because having poor visual representation on your accounts can also hurt your chances. This goes for your website too. I am a designer and web developer and over half of my business comes from business owners who tried to make a go of it on one of the DIY website builders. You can read about the four hidden costs of DIY builders like Shopify, Wix and Squarespace here, which leads us to our next point.
3- We all loved the 80’s but stop living in them!
The massive popularity of shows like Stranger Things and remakes of beloved 1980s movies shows us that nostalgia can play a big part in motivating human phycology. But unless your business sells retro gear, your branding should be modern, sleek and reflect the feel of your business.
This doesn’t mean that your logo and company branding will be the same over time either; your brand image is fluid. To see this in action, you just have to Google ‘Famous Logo Over Time’, and you will get countless brand logos and their progressions as they keep up with modern design practices.
Now I’m not advocating for you to look at your branding every year or so and update it, but if you have been in business for over ten years, it might be time to look at it. Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t an easy thing to re-brand an entire company as you will need new business cards, new letterheads, new email signatures, new uniforms, new car stickers, and more. But, we are very visual creatures and especially if your business comes from the corporate end of town, an outdated brand can hurt your chances.
So how do you go about it? Again, unless you have a heap of free time, I would find a local designer you can trust to bring your vision to life. You can use overseas services that are cheaper, and depending on your budget, this might work out the best for you, but the language barriers often get in the way, frustrating all parties involved. Having a local designer sit with you, tour your business and get a feel for what you do will benefit you in the long run.
4- Offer Substancical Service
You might not agree with every aspect of this article, and I can even hear some of you scoffing, saying things like; ‘I don’t have a website, and my business runs fine’ or ‘Our logo is from the 80s, I don’t think it needs updating’. This is all ok, too, this article isn’t meant to shame you into action, and every niche is different and unique. But there is one factor that will stand above everything: Great Service.
If you deliver more than you promise, you will always have great word of mouth marketing on your side. If you go above and beyond for your clients, it won’t matter what your logo looks like. But remember, until you get your foot in the door, you can’t show them how good your business is, so think about it and how people might perceive it. Ask some Facebook groups to look over your website or social media pages and see what they say. Lastly, and in all seriousness, at a bare minimum, stop using Gmail or Outlook as your customer facing contact. This, by far, is the most damaging of them all.
So like always, Live Large and Take Charge – Cam.
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