Starting a new business is daunting, and one of the hardest things about starting that business is wondering where your customers are going to come from. How are they going to find you, your location, or know that your services are worth their time and money? And then once you connect with them, how do you establish some trust that leads them to part with their own hard-earned cash?
Say you’re just getting started. What do you do? Where do those precious dollars of yours need to go to help shore up your own business and the image you’re presenting the world so they take a chance on your story? There are a lot of ways to start, but one of the key things is adding trust that your brand is real and not a fly-by-night company that will disappear on them. In today’s digital world, it’s even easier to connect with customers and add that reassurance without having to meet face-to-face.
1. Register your .com domain and get your website live
It sounds a bit harsh, but if you can’t get the business name you want with a .com extension, is that really the business name you want? While there are many cool domain extensions now beyond the .com, .net, .org, and .biz (I’m looking at you expensive .ninja), the average user is just kind of mentally trained to assume the .com of it all. Let’s say you want to call your company Alphabet Soup; well, alphabetsoup.com takes you to Hasbro toys and .net is taken. The .biz is available, but how many of your potential customers are going to automatically type in .com and end up at a completely unrelated site? It’s worse for those that might be in direct competition with their .com counterparts since you could inadvertently be sending business their way. You may have to go through a few company name ideas, but using whois.com you can find out if the name you want is available. (TIP: If you’re a local-only business, you can try adding your city name to the domain as a way to get the .com even if your first choice is unavailable.)
Once you have that domain, you need to get a website on it. While ideally you’d be talking to a digital marketing agency about that, we know budgets can be tight. If you do want to go the DIY route, make sure to comparison shop and read the fine print of any of the services well. Plus, if you’re wanting to build something now and upgrade later, think about contract terms that may or may not be the best fit for you. And of course, make sure that your site looks good on a mobile phone.
2. Create Your Facebook and Other Social Accounts
Think about when you’re trying to find a new restaurant or business you’ve heard of, what do you do? You likely Google it and try to find their website and then you go to Facebook to find their business page. Even if you’re afraid of social media, there are a ton of reasons to make sure that you not only have a Facebook page, but you use it, too. When you’re looking at those other companies and see that they’ve not updated for a couple years, are you not inclined to think they’ve gone out of business?
Register your page and make sure to register the custom URL structure so it’s easy for your customers to find. Then, make a plan. Can you really only post once a week? Maybe two or three? Social media is social, so even if all you’re posting is that day’s specials or a photo from a networking event, you’re showing that your business is still active. Whatever works for you is all that matters because if you plan on this big strategy you might find yourself too overwhelmed to post anything. Start small with what you can do, then you’ll be surprised as you get used to thinking about your social media your mindset will change, and suddenly you’ll be thinking of a ton of things to post!
3. Stop Using YourBusiness@Gmail.com
You’d be surprised how many business cards I’ve been handed that look nice, have a website listed on it, and then a email@example.com as the main email address.
Look, I get budgets, but a professional email with your domain at the end (firstname.lastname@example.org) can cost you as little as $5/month or less. While we certainly prefer Google hosted emails, GoDaddy, BlueHost, and many of the same places you would register your domain also offer a way for you to get email to that domain. Plus they have amazing customer service reps who can help you set it up on their system.
We prefer Google, though it is $5/month and one of the more expensive options, because it not only keeps everything in that awesome Gmail interface, but it also gives you access to a whole suite of services. With 30GB of Google Drive services, calendar, easy mobile email and more, Google really gives you the best value for money overall. Plus, it’s one of the easiest ones to use.
To me, this is one of the most important steps you can take to make your business look like you’re truly invested in it, and in turn, invested in your customer. It limits confusion, adds a polish to your overall brand, and adds a sense of security and reliability to your business. After all, do you feel safer giving money to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org?
Customers Need to Trust in Your Brand
Unfortunately we live in a world where people are always concerned about whether this great thing they’ve heard about is actually too good to be true or not real at all. Building trust in your brand and your company helps to prevent those questions and adds a level of security that your customer so desperately needs to keep working with you. Your story will help to sell your business, but first you need them to believe in your story. Getting the three things above live and in active use will help to show that you really do mean to be here to stay.