It Pays to PAK Your Small Business Image
Business Success Program: Business Success Lesson 6
If you're running a small business, you are your business. Wherever you go and whatever you do is a business promotion opportunity. Conversely, wherever you go and whatever you do reflects upon your business; your business image is, in large part, your image.
Too often small business people forget this. They've spent "x" amounts of dollars placing ads in various places and figure that's enough. Business promotion will take care of itself. It doesn't. If you want to improve your sales figures or get more clients or keep the customers you have coming back, you have to actively work at business promotion all the time.
But promotion isn't just advertising or press releases or sales events; promotion is also how you present yourself.
Ensure Positive First Impressions
Although we've all been advised not to judge people on our first impressions, we all do it. Worse, we form these judgments within two to thirty seconds of meeting someone for the first time! After that, we selectively filter our impressions of a person; sure, we'll take in new information or perceptions about them, but only in terms of how it confirms what we already "know" about him or her.
As a business owner, you want to ensure that everyone who meets you forms a positive first impression. After that, they'll be predisposed to think favorably of you. Creating a good first impression is especially crucial if you provide a service; every face-to-face contact you make reflects upon your service (and colors your business image).
Be Pleasant, Attractive, and Knowledgeable (PAK)
That's why it pays to pay attention to your business image. Concentrating on being Pleasant, Attractive, and Knowledgeable (PAK) will help you create and maintain the kind of business image that creates a positive first impression, gets good word-of-mouth, and builds credibility.
So think PAK and be Pleasant, Attractive and Knowledgeable (100 percent of the time, if you can manage it), no matter where you are and what you're doing. People enjoy meeting pleasant, attractive, knowledgeable people. By being pleasant, attractive, and knowledgeable to everyone you meet, you'll present the kind of business image that draws new business.
Being PAK (Pleasant- Attractive- Knowledgeable) all the time will go a long ways toward developing a positive business image, but it isn't easy. There will be days when you just don't feel like it, or days when you encounter situations that will make you so angry and frustrated that you'll find it hard to even manage being attractive, let alone pleasant.
But it's important to make a conscious effort and remind yourself that your business image affects your bottom line. I'm not saying that you should dress up to work in your yard, or that you need to wear a business suit when you're working in your home office, but you do need to be physically presentable and mentally prepared to deal with people pleasantly.
I, for instance, never go to the grocery store without cleaning up and checking my appearance before I go. And when I get to the store, I treat everyone I encounter courteously, from the guy parked next to me in the parking lot through the cashiers at the till. I don't get a lot of opportunities to demonstrate how knowledgeable I am at the grocery store, but I do manage to be pleasant and presentable.
Promote Your Business Everywhere You Go
If I'm lucky, I might also manage some business promotion while I'm shopping for groceries. Maybe I'll run into someone who asks me what I'm doing now, a perfect opportunity for updating them on the services I offer. Everywhere I go, I'm prepared to promote my business. Every day I spend some time thinking about ways I can promote my business and some time in business promotion activities.
Think about last week and where you went and what you did. How many business promotion opportunities did you cash in on? How many did you miss?
Does everyone you come in contact with know what you do and what product or service you offer? Think about it. What about your barber or hairdresser? The manager of your apartment building or the person who cuts your lawn? Your neighbor?
If someone asked them what you did, what would they say? They may not be potential clients themselves, but they may know someone who might be. And you're missing out on word-of-mouth if you haven't bothered to tell them what your business is about. See Word of Mouth Business Promotion and Ten Low-Cost Ways to Promote Your Business.
You don't have to have a prepared spiel ready to pour off your tongue every time someone even glances in your direction. But you do have to make a conscious effort to tell people what you do and something about your product or service that will pique their interest and help them remember what you do. Practice bringing it up casually in conversation (with your barber or hairdresser, for instance).
Take Advantage of Organizations and Events to Promote Your Business
There are a great many obvious events and organizations that business people can go to or join to network with other business people. We all know how to conduct ourselves in a roomful of others like ourselves.
But sometimes we forget that we could also be making valuable contacts and perhaps getting more customers at our daughters' rugby games, the community pancake breakfast, or even in the waiting room at the doctor's office. Talk to people wherever you go; show an interest in them and they'll respond with an interest in you... and an opportunity to promote your business.