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Six new year image boosters for your business

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 | By Nina Hendy

This quieter time of the year is the ideal time to put your brand overhaul plans in place. Here are six business image boosters to give your business a professional facelift.

 

1. Assess your brand attributes

 

The first step to any brand overhaul is to understand what you want to be and how you want your brand to be perceived, says Dan Ratner, managing director of branding and communications agency, Uberbrand.

 

“Organisations are often so wrapped up in their own feelings about their brand that they often lose sight of how it is actually perceived by their customers. If there is disconnect between the brand perception an organisation wants to convey and how the public actually sees it, there is a problem,” Ratner says.

 

You need to consider strengthening or changing your brand strategy if a group of the public is asked to describe your brand and they all come back with different answers.

 

Or, if staff has different perceptions of the brand, an overhaul could be the answer.

 

“If people within the organisation have differing perceptions of the brand, it makes it impossible to communicate consistent messages externally that will help build your brand equity,” he says.

 

2. Get your website right

 

Look at your website objectively and ask people to give honest opinions of it. Also, compare it with the competition,” says Joe Fox, marketing director of web development and digital marketing agency Studio Culture.

 

“There are countless businesses out there – what are you doing that’s different?” he asks.

 

Consider if the language on your website is easy to read, if the site is cluttered, and if there’s room for an online store. Also, consider if users would feel safe making a transaction through your site and if not, how to fix that, he says.

 

“The position of a button, the colour of text and the subjects of your imagery have all been known to influence purchases online, so conduct thorough testing,” Fox says.

 

Using social media effectively is also crucial for anyone in business, Fox says.

“Use the right tools for the right market and create a story about your brand that people want to listen to and appreciate – don’t just sell, sell, sell.”

 

3. Assess your marketing footprint

 

It’s a great time to assess everything that represents your business brand, including your voice mail message, website and business cards. Also assess eNewsletter templates, new business presentations, company profile documents and make sure any testimonials you use are up to date.

 

Be sure these areas represent your business well and cater to the preferred style of your audience, says Phoebe Netto, of PR and consulting firm Good Business.

 

Good or bad, businesses are constantly creating impressions about their business to others.

 

“Often it’s the seemingly small aspects of their business brand that create a lasting impression, such as business cards, phone manner, email signature, staff uniform, presentation of invoices and proposals.

 

“Ensure that your unique selling points and key values come across simply and clearly, and that it’s obvious that your business addresses a need or desire that your ideal customer has,” Netto says.

 

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4. Clear out the communication pipeline

 

Take a step back and map out your current communication process that includes the standard points of contact that someone might have with your business, from making an enquiry through to having an invoice followed up, continues Netto.

 

It’s important to ensure there are deliberate steps in place with templates and consistent standards, she says.

 

“Identify any roadblocks that make it hard for people to do business with you, or even make it difficult for people to give you more business,” Netto says.

 

“Also, look for any gaps in your communication and areas for improvement. For example, decide how many hours or days someone will have to wait receiving a response to an enquiry made through your website, and set a standard of what that response will include.”

 

Netto adds that lots of business opportunities are lost simply by ignoring customers after they have made a purchase. “By documenting your communication process, you can address any bottlenecks, missed opportunities and weak spots before your customers and potential customers experience them.”

 

A secret shopper experience could be valuable during the assessment process, she says.

 

5. Play customer for a day

 

Putting yourself in your customers' shoes is the perfect way to identify what needs to be done in your business to improve it.

 

Stan Gordon, the CEO of Franchised Food Company, says business owners need to step away from their business for a day and see what it’s like to do business with your firm.

 

“Read over your website and marketing materials with fresh eyes, dine in your restaurant, call your phone number as someone else, test your email address and response time, Google yourself and walk through the customer entrance. Then, do the same for your competitors.”

 

Learn from this experience by listing areas you can improve on, he says.

 

“Decide what you can do to make the experience better, easier or more exciting,” Gordon says.

 

6. Give yourself a business retreat

 

All the major Australian corporations do it via planning time away from the office or national sales meetings, so why shouldn’t your business?

 

A business retreat gives you and/or your team time to assess the year ahead and put plans in place to achieve your goals.

 

Professional organiser Karen Koedding of A Little Elf recommends booking an office off-site, or better still, a house in the mountains or down the coast for at least two full days. If you book an office in town, book a hotel to stay in overnight as well, so you’re thought pattern is different, she says.

 

“Bring all of those ideas you’ve had over the past year, those articles you never read, your financial reports showing results and details of your top clients and plan out your year.

 

“If possible, turn off the phone and the internet. Allow yourself to think, dream and plan. Do this at least twice a year,” she says.

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