(“6 things your business needs” – using a business card stock photo)
1. a logo for your business
Why? Because it gives people part of a branded experience. It should go out on everything you send out. Possibly the only exception to this are emails – because emails can end up in the spam folder if they have attachments. Oh, and for the time being, while you can post to your own Facebook page and have that nice logo appear with every post instead of you and your children / friends / etc – unfortunately Facebook won’t let your page post to other pages and groups.
Just typing your company name in a decorative font doesn’t cut it. If you are a professional graphic designer, that’s great. If you aren’t (by which I mean you haven’t done it for other people who have paid you for it) – then get someone who is to do it. Seriously. Ok, if you really are one of these people who just loves to do design things and is held in some esteem by your peers as a talented amateur (let’s face it, there are extremely talented amateur photographers out there) whose creations are in use, then sure do it too. I’m just saying that there are alot of people out there who think they are good enough but aren’t. This is your business we’re talking about, so be honest with yourself.
See. I used to think I could come up with something good, and I’ve woken up to the fact that it’s better to leave it to someone who knowns what they’re doing as a designer. It doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, if you look at some of the best known logos, they’re pretty simple-looking. Think Nike. McDonalds.
2. a website
It’s your shop front on the Internet. You may have heard that before. As such, it should be tidy, accessible. Loading time should be kept to a minimum. It should be responsive – that means it should resize itself and reformat itself based on the devices used to access it. Google likes responsive websites.
It should be SEO friendly. SEO isn’t just a once-off exercise. Your website should be updated regularly. That doesn’t mean you have to tweak little bits of it all the time – rather it means adding new content – so a blog as part of the site is an excellent way to update the site. Just make sure that the blog pages are also written with SEO in mind. Keywords are phrases that you target your website towards. So if “london plumbing” is what you want to be found under on Google, that’s what your main keywords would be – so you should build your SEO strategy, including your blogs, around them.
Have your own website name (the “www.blah.thingy” bit, like www.alexsavillephotography.com. Oh and some sites let you miss out the “www” part). Not having a website detracts from the professional image you’d like to portray.
You can get people to create a website for you. Or if you’re a bit tech savvy, try creating one using WordPress on your own site with a template. You can do a lot with templates and plugins to tweak your website. You’re limited on a WordPress HOSTED site, so have someone else host it. If you’re using WordPress as a system, try Siteground as a provider – they seem to be pretty reliable and targeted at hosting WordPress sites.
Nothing speaks as well to potential clients as other people. Sure anyone can fake a good testimonial, so if you’re working with companies, link in to their websites. If you can, get video testimonials. Don’t make them too slick or they’ll start to look fake. If you’ve got publications, link to them or show them. Mention awards if you have them, especially if they are for service or for a particular product line.
4. business cards
A good business card leaves a good impression if all else is in place. Read Top Ten Business Card Mistakes | Get a Hertfordshire Graphic Designer, where we talk about them in more detail. Does it need to be a masterpiece of design? It depends on your business, maybe. I’ve had designers say to me that a well designed card with a 3d shape could stay on someone’s desk…I’m not convinced. I don’t have space to leave cards lying around. It’s scan them in and put them in a box. If you’re a graphic designer, it could be make the deal. If you’re a plumber, probably not. And a toilet shaped card… really?
5. an email that’s associated with the website
I’ve mentioned this on the business card blog too. Professionalism, permanence, effort. So don’t use “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Yes, it’s cheap – but it doesn’t cost a business much to have a professional email id. And for heaven’s sake, “email@example.com” is not going to create the right impression for your business.
6. product/service samples
It comes down to this – it’s hard to sell what you can’t show. Which means that if you sell physical items, have samples. Even if you provide a customised service, you can show off the quality of what you produce. Make sure your samples are in good condition.
For businesses that are purely in the service industry, it’s somewhat more difficult, and so this may not apply.
and a bonus: a good attitude
A smile and helpfulness goes a long way. It doesn’t mean that you have to give in to whatever the client wants, but you should always try to provide what they need if you can.
Disclaimer: Any similarities between real email or web addresses and those which are in quotes is unintentional.
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