You Know That Bigger isn’t Always Better, but Clients Don’t Always See It That Way
If you’re a one-person operation or even a small company of three people, you could be missing out on opportunities by giving away your solopreneur status. One way to level the playing field is to use subtle signals to make your business seem bigger. Here are some strategies that can help:
1. Create a Distinct Business Name
If you are the sole proprietor of a business––or someone who works with just a handful of employees––you may be tempted to use your name to identify your business. This choice may seem smart––it does increase your branding––but a more original name can make your company feel larger. For example, instead of a business name like “John Doe's Digital Design,” you can create a catchier moniker like “Beacon Digital Design Lab.” A distinct name establishes your company as a separate entity and creates the illusion that there are more than one or two people working there.
2. Lengthen Your Email Address
It’s a subtle thing, but adding your last name to your business email address can completely change the impression people have of your company. “John@beacon.com” is informal and easy to remember, but it sends a pretty strong signal that your operation is small. “John.Doe@beacon.com” lets people assume that the company has more than one John. After all, it’s much harder for large companies to only use first names.
3. Use the Royal “We” In Business Discussion
When talking to potential business partners or clients, you may be tempted to say “I” when talking about your company. This small verbal mistake is understandable, but can make others assume that your business is very small. So try to use the royal “we” when talking about your business whenever possible.
This step is smart for a variety of reasons. First of all, saying “we” makes your customers or clients assume that your business is more significant in size and that it may include many other individuals. As a result, they are more likely to work with you or may respect your company more. Just as importantly, saying “we” will make you feel better about your company and its relatively small size. Yes, this type of witty verbal badinage is a bit of self-deception, but sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. And when you do get the success that you deserve to achieve, the feeling of saying "we" and meaning it will be sweet.
4. Don't Skimp On Your Promotional Materials
Trade shows are a great place to create the impression that your company is a serious player in your industry. If you get a great booth, invest in high-quality promotional materials, and bring a friend or two, you can make your business seem dynamic and well-run. It takes a bit of advanced planning, but it doesn’t cost as much as you might expect to order custom tablecloths and polo shirts with your logo embroidered on them. Meet as many people as you can and give out some branded items.
People who receive promotional materials from a company are likely to assume that the business takes pride in its performance and has a big marketing budget. And don't forget: these items are also a tax write-off.
5. Be a Bigger Fish in a Smaller Pond
It’s a lot harder for small businesses to break through in saturated markets where there are already a lot of big-name competitors. If you are constantly losing clients to larger companies, consider making yourself a bigger fish in a smaller pond. One way to do that is to specialize. Don’t be a general marketing agency; be a marketing agency that specializes in law practices or assisted living communities. Another way to carve out a niche is to move to a less competitive city. For instance, it’s less than two hours from New York City, but Philadelphia is a much cheaper place to live and do business. You can use the money you save on expenses to establish domination over a small region.
6. Keep Your Social Media Friends Voluminous
Social media has created an ultra-connected world that is both good and bad for your business. This connection is good because it can help you reach a broader range of customers, but bad because it may also show off the small size of your company. However, you can create a large social media friendship base on sites like LinkedIn. This step will make your company seem more significant.
For example, connect with every client with whom you have created a successful relationship. Add people whom you might be interested in hiring when you can afford it and add friends, family members, and anybody else who you can think to include on your site. Extensive and useful friend lists on social media websites will make you seem more successful to your customers. Just as important, you should continually update your social media sites to make your business seem more active and sprawling. For example, regular travel photos, constant blog updates, and articles from contributing experts can ensure that your customers and partners see you like a more extensive, successful business.
Don't Let Your Small Size Dictate Your Success
As you can see, standing out in the business world is all about creating an appearance that detracts from any potential weaknesses. Everybody in the business world does this to some extent, so don't be afraid to utilize these steps to seem more significant to your customers and partners.
Laura Gayle is a full-time blogger who has ghostwritten more than 350 articles for major software companies, tech startups, and online retailers. Founder of www.BusinessWomanGuide.org, she created her site to be a trusted resource for women trying to start or grow businesses on their own terms. She has written about everything from crowdfunding and inventory management to product launches, cybersecurity trends, web analytics, and innovations in digital marketing.