Most people will tell you that they enjoy working for small marketing companies because of their “personal approach,” “I am not just a number,” or the fact that “I work with heavy-hitters and not some trainee fresh out of school.”
When things are going smoothly, they will say these things. If the perceived level of service drops, these same enthusiastic supporters will begin to doubt their decision to work with a small company.
They may find that things they once found charming, such as having a real person take messages rather than a machine that sends a message to voicemail, suddenly become signs that they should consider working with a larger, more professional firm.
It’s good to know that these quirks of small agencies don’t need to be fatal. Many of these problems can be solved by using simple technology. This gives firms the tools they need to compete with big businesses while still maintaining their small business roots. Eight remedies for small-marketing firms will ensure that you don’t fall victim to the “too-small” trap.
You don’t need a single phone line to handle all of your business communications.
A busy signal on the phone or a phone that rings endlessly until the caller gives it up are both signs of “too little.”
Today, a person who calls a business (instead of sending an email) is expecting the call to either be answered or at least routed to a voicemail or auto-attendant. Virtual PBX can replace a traditional private branch exchange phone system that is too expensive to install or requires too much knowledge to maintain.
These services will automatically route your calls to the extensions you have set up and provide voicemail so that callers can leave messages. The caller will never hear a busy tone and will not be trapped in a ringing cycle. They will feel more confident that you can service their needs.
It would be best if you didn’t continue to use a portal account for your email.
A business email address with @gmail.com or @aol.com makes you appear to be a small-timer who has a lack of capital and may not expect to last very long.
Most Web hosts will allow you to set up one or more email addresses with the address @yourdomain.com if your company has a web page. Buy your domain if you do not have one yet! If you do a bit of research, you can find a part for less than 10 dollars per year. Put up your website to let customers know what you’re all about and for new customers to see you.
Please do not make your customers wait for you to switch over your phone so that it can accept a fax.
Don’t let your customers hear fax screeches while they are trying to call. Your customers will start to question whether you are big enough to take care of their business.
Internet fax services solve both problems by allowing users to send and receive documents via their email accounts or secure online servers. To your customers, it’s just like sending and receiving faxes from a regular fax machine. It’s more efficient for you both.
You can also send and receive faxes anywhere that you have an Internet connection. This makes you more accessible than if you relied on a fax machine in your office.
Do not give your customers a list of numbers to call
Too many numbers on business cards or email signatures can confuse customers. They’re often unsure which number to dial and when. So, sooner or later, they’ll decide to call your competitor.
A virtual PBX can be very useful in this situation. You can provide customers with a single number and have it ring multiple phones simultaneously or sequentially (office, home, cell) in response. This takes the guesswork out for your customers and ensures that they can always reach you, which was often their original reason for signing up with you.
Do not wait more than a few days to respond to emails or phone calls from customers
When you give them your full attention, they love it. When you give all your attention to another person, they love you less. They know that you have other clients but don’t want to admit it.
Checking voice mail regularly is good. It is best to have your voicemail messages reach you. Virtual PBX allows you to receive voicemails in your email so that you are always aware of the caller’s message and their expectation for a quick response.
Email is no exception. Check it frequently. If you’re in a business where you don’t have access to a laptop or the Internet on a regular basis, you should invest in a phone that has email capabilities. The more accessible you are, the more you will be able to provide service.
Avoid using abbreviations in text messages, poor grammar, and typos.
Some people believe that as the lines between business and personal life continue to blur, it is OK to communicate the same way with colleagues as they would with friends. It’s not.
Text abbreviations, such as “r u” for “are-you,” make you appear like you’re playing with running a small business. Typos and bad grammar might make your blog seem “real,” but it does little to create a professional image of your business.
Proofread all business correspondence before you send it. It’s amazing how much attention to detail can help you stand out.
You don’t need to worry about technology issues all the time
Every company experiences technology problems (or outages) from time to time. If you constantly apologize for technology malfunctions, then your customers may soon seek out competitors whose technology works.
You may not be able to handle IT issues quickly if you are a marketing company that hasn’t become an IT consulting firm. Why not outsource IT management rather than continue to pull your hair out while trying to learn it on the job? Some companies will manage your equipment, while others will allow you to create your network using their equipment.
It doesn’t matter which way you go; the job of keeping your system up and running is someone else’s task. This allows you to concentrate on doing your work for your clients.