Long gone are the days of formal, in-person first impressions.
We've all heard the expression, "you never get a second chance to make a first impression." This is true, but it's no longer happening in person. Nowadays, people are making judgments about you and your business before they even meet you. How so you may ask? Google, Facebook (business and professional accounts), checking your website, and any other form of social media you may be a part of. Your first impression is happening, whether you like it or not, without you.
When someone needs a product or service, most people will use the previously mentioned platforms before giving your business a call. If that's the case, you want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward. To do this, you have to understand that business networking is changing. Below, I will touch on a couple of ways potential clients can "meet you," and how you can make sure you're digitally presentable.
Your website is being seen as an in-depth business card. Clients want to know anything and everything, like 1) who you are, 2) what you do, and 3) who you have worked with. Many different types of people will navigate your site, but there's one thing they all have in common: impatience. When building your website, the biggest thing you have to consider is load time. On average, if your website takes more than 5 seconds to load, 80% of your visitors will leave immediately; say goodbye to a good first impression. Secondly, you want your website to be easy to navigate. When building the site, be mindful of what your potential customers will see. The last thing you want for them to experience is information overload. You've seen it before; the overwhelming list of options that looks more like a Cheesecake Factory menu rather than a website navigation bar? Typically, it's best to have around five primary options (this can vary depending on your industry or what you're selling). A simple, clear, and easy-to-follow website will be much more attractive to your audience, allowing them to navigate smoothly and more efficiently.
Social Media Business Pages
Social media is the most commonly misunderstood tool a business has. The purpose of any social media page is to primarily build awareness. They are your digital billboards. It is common to follow the 3 to 1 rule. For every three regular posts, you can have a sales pitch post (this is a minimum, I'd say it is better to follow a 5 to 1 rule). Nowadays, people on Facebook and Instagram know when you're selling them something. Instead, provide value for your followers. This can be free education, recommendations about your local area, or even highlighting other businesses when you work with them. People want to see you on your business page. They want to see what you value as a company. They NEED to see that you care about something, either locally or nationally, other than just selling products or services. There is a time, place, and methodology to using social media for your business. Think of selling products on these platforms as the "long game" and only secondary to building brand awareness. People want to know and trust you before they support you.
Now I could go on and on about how to best utilize Google and its platform. For today's blog, I'm going to solely focus on Google My Business Listings (GMB). This is the digital version of your business information. It provides pictures of your brick-and-mortar storefront, a description of your business, contact information, and, most importantly, reviews. The most common mistake with GMB listings is that businesses simply don't "claim" them. Regardless of if you claim it or not, Google creates one. This is due to customers checking in manually, adding Google images, etc. So if Google is already making a listing for your business, you might as well take advantage of this opportunity for free marketing. First and foremost, make sure that all information is correct and up to date. Next, update your GMB images and videos every quarter. This tells Google you are still there, as well as shows potential customers what to expect when they first arrive. You don't want to be that business that displays old, out-of-date pictures. This confuses customers and makes it look like you don't care about your online presence. Lastly, RESPOND TO REVIEWS! This is probably just as important as claiming your business in the first place. Reviews allow potential customers to get an idea of what to expect at your establishment. Most businesses are good at responding to bad reviews. They want to clarify something that happened or fix an issue for a customer. However, many times good reviews get overlooked. These people had a GOOD experience and are taking time out of their busy schedules to tell you how great it was. Responding shows you care! Even a simple "thank you" goes a long way and can ensure you'll have repeat customers.
In this day and age, your digital presence is a key component of your business's first impression. Website, social media pages, and GMB listings are the top three ways to virtually "shake hands" with your customer before they even walk into your store. There are many more we can consider and dissect, but it is important to make sure you have a handle on these first. If you can follow these easy steps, you're sure to see your business soar in this technologically driven world!
Mason is the operations manager at Bahlr Media, an ad agency located in downtown CDA. He has lived in CDA for almost all his life. When he isn't working, he spends time with his wife, Kelsey, and two-year-old son, Zander. He enjoys everything Marvel and playing video games. Recently, he has started up a podcast called, Flip The Switch, where he aims to interview high performers and find out how they flip the switch after a long day and unwind while also diving into their success stories and how they got to where they are.