Remember when you were young and you had to face off the school bully by pretending to be brave? That did the trick, didn’t it? It got the bully to back down and earned you the respect of your playground mates. Yessss, it works. (Well, most of the time). The funny thing is, when you fast forward 20 years, the same concept applies in the business world. Touche, right?
Making your business look big when you’re actually a struggling up-comer will provide you with increased credibility in the eyes of consumers and therefore give you the opening you need to grow your business. The only problem, however, is how to go about making your business look big without running the risk of consumers getting wind of your bluff. Ha!
There are heaps of “fake it until you make it” charlatans around, but this post isn’t about becoming a conman, LOL. It’s basically a roundup of 10 safe and successful tactics you can use to make your business appear bigger than it really is when you already have the proper processes and products in place. I applied several of these tactics when I was a budding entrepreneur which helped me grow the You! Lingerie brand to where it is today, one of the leading brands of nursing and maternity intimates world wide.
1. The Power of “We”
When I first launched my business, it was just me and my sister. She helped me with fulfillment and I played the role of CEO, marketing, sales, customer service and everything else in between and with every outside communication, I used the language “we” rather than “I” whenever I referred to my business…on the phone, on email, on my company website etc. So if you are rolling solo in your business, always use “we” vs. just an “I.” Remember to communicate about your gig in the plural. It implies that you are running a bigger enterprise than you actually are. Being a one-woman or one-man show isn’t a bad thing, but some customers often feel more confident doing business with a company that has more than just one person running the show.
2. Work On Your Brand
Successful big businesses spend a great deal of time, money, and effort creating recognized brands for a good reason. Strong brands provide entrepreneurs with a ton of highly beneficial advantages, which include customer recognition, enhanced credibility, unbreakable customer loyalty, and competitive edge in the market. So, the first step of creating the illusion of a bigger business is to work on strengthening your brand.
Generally speaking, branding is everywhere from the logo and information you use to present your business to how you treat your employees and customers. So, there are a ton of things you can do to strengthen your brand from establishing a warm relationship with your customers, to finding creative ways of presenting your business in photos, brochures, and online platforms, to keeping the lines of communication between you and your clients open 24/7.
The bottom line is to make sure you pull out all the stops to build a brand that consumers can rely on. Your business may be small, but the minute you manage to present a strong brand, you will be able to punch above your weight and therefore get to enjoy all the benefits that come with having a well-known brand.
3. Create a “Wow-Looking” Business Website
A huge percentage of the world’s population comprises of active “Googlers”. As a result, when potential customers hear of your business and want to find out more about it, chances are they will perform an online search. Lack of a website or a poorly done one will lose you these customers. If you want your business to appear bigger, you’ll need to create the perfect website.
A professional, great-looking and well-organized website will make a good impression on the potential customers. What’s more, the cost of developing websites nowadays is much lower than in the past. This is thanks to the availability of many web builders who do the work at a small fee. So, creating a great website will be easy even when you’re working with a limited budget.
4. Using your Home Addy is a No-No
I tell a lot of my clients this, if your business requires you to ship physical products to your customers, this is uber important. For obvious reasons, you definitely want to keep your privacy, like duh, right? More importantly, your business will seem more legit and less “mom & pop” when you use an anonymous PO Box. What’s even sweeter is when your PO Box address can be aliased as a “Suite #”. There are UPS Stores that offer PO Boxes suite aliases to small businesses. Score, right?! This is what we used in the first year after You! Lingerie was launched. It adds a professional touch and gives the impression that your business is a bit bigger than it might actually be at the moment. This helps you to project success which in turn will help you to see some professional result.
5. Build a Social Presence
A great business website with compelling content will portray your business as big and professional and allow you access to customers you would not have been able to reach. But since you want to be omnipresent and on all the right platforms, it’s also a good idea to list your business on an active business page or famous platforms such as LinkedIn, or even create a company twitter account. Establishing a social presence will increase your visibility significantly and will create an intimacy with consumers that will instill confidence in your business.
6. Get a Virtual Assistant
There are several advantages to working with a VA whether you are a large company, a start up or a one woman business, the biggest one being cost savings as you only pay for the hours they work and only when you need it. A virtual assistant can easily shave hours off your day. Imagine, being ahead of schedule for once, and having the free time to work on your new e-book, new product, or add a new service for your clients (Insert an AMEN here!). It’s also a good idea to have someone who can respond for you instead of you when it comes to corresponding and making appointments for your business. That distance can imply importance. Obviously, there will be times when direct communication from you is necessary, so use some judgement. If you’re not ready to hire a VA, you can work with a part-time intern or family member or carefully pretend to be one yourself.
7. Print Business Cards
Printing a bag of company cards is a cheap way of making your business look big. Business cards represent professionalism, competence, trustworthiness, honesty, and credibility, all of which are qualities that are normally found in large successful businesses. However, you should be careful when using this tactic. People will make judgments about your business based on the look of your card before even taking time to read the contents of the card. So, an eye-catching business card is mandatory as it creates a good impression with the recipient causing him/her to hold on to the card and even pass it on to friends in need of your services/products.
You should also be careful about the email address you put on your business card. Nothing screams small business louder than a business card with an ordinary address such as @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, or any other commonly used mail extension. It shows you are too small-time or unconcerned to even afford purchasing a personalized domain. Therefore, you should try to personalize and professionalize your email address in a creative way. For instance, you can use @(your business name).com. The catchier the address name, the better.
You can even go as far as including multiple emails for different departments in the business. Even if all of the addresses belong to you and maybe a few of your employees, to the outside world, it looks like you run a big business with a whole slew of employees working for you.
8. Get a Toll Free Number
The benefits of having a toll free number are endless. Besides the fact that it enhances brand recognition and credibility, toll free numbers can also help to increase your sales and ROI. Toll free numbers makes it easier for your customers to reach you and get their questions answered. They’ll be able to call you from anywhere any day, any time and it won’t cost them a thing. And the best part is that you could be working out of your basement and your customers would never know. HA!
9. Use Large Numbers on Your Invoices
Customers who are looking for the best services or products are very perceptive and can pay close attention to something as trivial as an invoice number. When sending out invoices or quotes to potential customers, avoid numbering them with small numbers such as #03, 09, 10, 30, etc. It shows you do not have many clients or do not usually deal with clients in an official capacity. Instead, start numbering your invoices with a high number such as #11000 and go up from there. It portrays that you’re in the big league and alludes that you’re a large business with many clients.
10. Work Hard in Silence, Let Your Success Make The Noise
With the rise of social media, there are are so many posers, wannabes and wantrepreneurs, so it can be very tempting to want to over-talk, pose or try to over-compensate for what you are not. But remember that part of “faking it till you make it” is remaining cool, working smart, grinding and letting your success do the talking for you. Pay close attention and observe the successes of others as this will be the key to growing your business beyond what you may be projecting.
In conclusion, large businesses are perceived as more successful and more value oriented than smaller ones. As a result, people naturally trust big companies. Portraying your business as big and successful will automatically earn you the confidence of consumers. However, you should avoid lying or pretending to be something you are not during your quest to look bigger. The trick is to take steps that make your business look bigger without providing your consumers with misguiding information. The tactics listed here offer you a great start.