One of the pleasures I derive from being a small business consultant is the fun I have as soon as I enter someone’s business or engage their online presence for the first time. The fact is, the initial impression I get from a business is established the moment I enter the front door or land on their website for the first time - and the same holds true for most other patrons or prospects as well.
This initial impression your business gives someone sends a message that is either positive or negative and may vary in degree. Of course it's easy for me to see this as a black a white issue, but someone’s opinion of a business is usually formed in a multitude of ways. Let me explain...
As a former real estate broker I taught my agents that curb appeal was incredibly important to the success of a home sale!
The same holds true for any business, whether they're a brick-and-mortar location or internet based. As a potential patron, customer or client, someone will form their opinion of a business within seconds of their initial interaction. I’m going to share an example with you of a deli that I enjoy frequenting for my morning meal or mid-day snack; not to mention my daily fix of a huge glass of fresh brewed iced tea!
For the past 12 years I patronized a small deli in a neighboring town that had a woman named Pat greeting the public as the “face” of the deli. Pat was an incredibly warm and caring person that had a big bright smile on her face each and everyday I saw her. When I first walked into the deli, Pat was quick to say “hello” and ALWAYS ask me how I was doing that day.
When Pat asked you “how you were” she truly meant it!
She genuinely cared about each and every person that entered the deli … or at least she made you feel that way! For me, going into the deli in the morning and being greeted by Pat was equivalent to the greeting Norm got when entered Cheers on the ’80s sitcom.
Cheers was known as the place where “everybody knew your name”!
To tell you a little more about Pat…she was an amazing woman, the mother of 5 children and was always quick to volunteer in her local community. She once told me that she ran the “snack-stand” for our local little league for 17 seasons! She was even recognized as a “volunteer of the year” by our local community and was truly regarded as an all around great person to be associated with.
Pat was the perfect person to greet people from the community as they arrived at this local deli. Pat knew so many people in the community that you felt like greeting an old friend as you came into the restaurant.
Could you imagine a better person to be the face of your small business?
If you noticed I keep referring to Pat in the past tense. On August 9th, 2012 at 4:00am Pat lost her battle with a rare cancer that claimed the life of this 57 year old woman entirely too soon! While attending Pat’s viewing, one had to wait over an hour just to get into the church as the line wrapped around the block with people waiting to pay their last respects to this beloved woman. A community and family lost a great person, but my favorite deli also lost the face of its business…
At the same time that Pat left the deli to tend to her cancer treatments, the deli invested in a larger facility and moved less than a mile down the road from its old location. After completely renovating their new space and creating a beautiful new environment, the owners decided to re-invent their business. They also wanted to find a new identity to match their new surroundings. With the loss of Pat (the longtime face of the deli) and a brand new look & feel to the deli, this business quickly found themselves searching to reconnect with the community. It took them quite a while to re-establish their standing with their previous patrons!
When it comes to your small business, did you ever take
a good look at the “face of your business”?
Too often small business owners don’t take the time to see what it is that others see when they first engage with your business. Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar location or an online business, the first impression you give to the public is as important as anything else you do!
It doesn’t matter if the first impression is made with your business card, a brochure, your stationary or invoices, a landing page for your website or the person that greets potential customers or clients as they arrive at your front door; you need to send the right message!
The old saying that you should “never judge a book by its cover” is true...
but is that ideology a reality?
There are several ways to evaluate what others see as they first get introduced to your business or marketing agency. But it's often extremely difficult to do a self-assessment of your own business image. So how should you handle this? The answer is simple…get help with your evaluation! There are professionals out there that can help you evaluate your business and the image you present to the public.
If you feel that people DO NOT judge your business by the image you present, then you are creating a roadblock to entry that is difficult to overcome. Do yourself a favor, find a woman like Pat and have the community fall in love with your business…it may be just that easy!!