In business, as in the natural world, the strongest survive.
Our ancestral hunting genes are continually giving us, often subconscious, hints to help our decision making. Is this or that situation a threat, an opportunity? Can I trust this person or that person? Is everything as I would expect it to be?
These hints, along with a whole load of life experience, pay a huge part in our lives, and, you should understand, in the buying decisions of your customers.
What do businesses do that help build that trust? What are the mistakes they make that destroy it?
We don’t suggest bigger businesses always get it right but it’s often helpful to consider how they do things and apply the same principles to your own business.
Below we’ll give you some examples that we come across regularly – we’re not suggesting they’re the five most important – but they are nonetheless worth a thought:
1) Quoting mobile phone numbers in the wrong places
The only place your mobile phone number should appear is on your business card and your email signature. Putting your mobile phone number on your van, or a flyer, or almost anywhere else says “I’m a one man band – and I’m too cheap to pay for a service that can handle calls in my absence” – we’re sorry but it does.
2) Having no website
It is possible to run a business without a website, in the same way that it is possible to live without a fridge, or an inside toilet, or running water! However, people are literally making an investment in your business when they buy your products or services. They are less likely to do that if you haven’t made an investment in yourself.
3) Using free email addresses
We see these everywhere we look. Sometimes the business has a website but for historic reasons or just plain lack of technical investment, it’s email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org etc. It really isn’t expensive to get yourself set up with a proper email address that reflects well on your business – you really can’t afford not to.
3b) Using a different domain for your website address and email address
This doesn’t really qualify as a completely separate point – so we’ll slip it in here. Sometimes we see the .com used as the website and then, say, the .co.uk used for the email address. There’s no good reason for this, it just looks inconsistent (which is the arch-enemy of good branding). By all means buy all the different website combinations you can think of – if that’s what you want to do – but have them all feed into one web site and one email.
4) Internationalising your telephone number
There are obviously times when it is useful to quote your number as, for example 0044 (0)1933 314335, but we question how many international calls some of these businesses are really receiving. We did some work for a client once and it was to promote a local event in Northamptonshire – they asked us to internationalise their number “to make them look big”. We’re afraid that it doesn’t – used incorrectly – it makes you look small.
5) www or not www
In the second decade of the 21st century, most people have a grasp of what a website address is and how to use it. Many people have dispensed with quoting ‘www’ as part of their website address. Many people also just omit it when they type it into their computer, smartphone etc. However, it’s surprising how many websites don’t work without the preceding ‘www’. There’s no big technical reason for that – your hosting provider just needs to update their services for you. You don’t want to miss that next big job because people think your website is not working – so check it out now!