Ask a business owner how they're marketing their company, and they might talk about pay-per-click campaigns, loyalty discounts, newspaper ads, search engine optimization, and more. That's accurate as far as it goes, but it's only part of the picture.
The truth of the matter is, everything you do is marketing. Designing your website so customers can easily find what they want? That's marketing. Answering your phone and emails quickly and professionally? More marketing. Making good on it if a customer's merchandise arrives damaged? Still more marketing. Hanging out on social media sites? Yes, believe it or not, that's marketing too.
How can all of these things be marketing? It's very simple, really. Customers and potential customers constantly form impressions of who and what you are, and what you can offer them. They also expect people in your field to talk, dress, and act a certain way. If what they perceive of you doesn't fit their image, your business can suffer. As Stoney deGeyter explains, “Perception matters...Would you trust a mechanic with a poorly tuned vehicle? A lawyer who drives a Yaris? A contractor with a run-down office? A landscaper with an overgrown lawn? You might, but I guarantee you'd think twice before you do. None of these things demonstrate how well any of these business owners do their job, but the perception is, if they can't take care of themselves, how can you trust them to take care of you?”
If you're a business professional with a website, then, it's particularly important that it be easy to navigate, and that all of the spelling and grammar be correct. You can certainly show your personality, but most people don't expect their doctors and lawyers to be too “folksy,” and become a little uncomfortable if they are. Before you post any pictures to Facebook or your blog, be sure to consider how they will impact your business and your professional image.
This is why many business owners hire professional website designers to build their company's website. If you choose to do this, make sure you're hiring someone with experience designing websites for other professionals in your field. Ask for links to their work, and think about what these websites say about the people who own them.
Everything is marketing, because everything you say and do contributes to how you are perceived, by both prospects and customers. And perception, as any salesman will tell you, is everything. It doesn't even matter if the other person's perception of you is an accurate depiction of who you are or the quality of the goods and/or services you can sell them. It may not seem fair, but it's the way the world of business works. Your website plays a major role in how your customers and prospects perceive you, so you'd best make sure it reflects what you want it to. Remember, if a customer's or prospect's perception of you is unfavorable enough, you'll never get a chance to change their minds. Good luck!
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