Many companies have a physical space for customers to step into, allowing them to get an all-round feel for the business almost instantly. This impression is crucial, and will set the tone of the customer’s buying decisions thereafter. So naturally, companies strive to make this space welcoming and a high quality on-brand experience. But what about companies for which it is just not in the nature of the business to have a physical ‘base’? How can they give a great first impression, without the help of a physical space?
First and foremost you need to optimise your next best substitute for a ‘base’ – your website! Most people these days conduct at least part of their purchasing decision research online and your website is your shop front. It is the first contact many people will have, so it needs to make a great first impression.
Whether you’re a sole trader running a local business, or have a large and growing team, your website needs to look the part. Use high-quality images, consistent brand and messaging and smart fonts – it’s all about enforcing a respectable and professional image, as you would in a business’ physical space. Choose colours, themes and styles that compliment your brand, make sure your text and paragraphs are well-spaced and easy to read. Ensure the content on your site is easy to follow and written in uncomplicated language. Make sure that vital information customers need to be able to engage with you (e.g. your telephone number, opening hours, service availability and online booking system) are easy to find and not hidden away.
Next, you’re going to want to include plenty of pictures and videos of your services, specialities or expertise that show what you offer and what customers can expect. Don’t forget that people can’t help but to relate to other people, so make sure you tell a human story. Consider a picture gallery or a short “about us” video. This is also a great way to stand out from your competition.
As well as showing your business in action, you’re also going to want to show how much your existing customers like your business and benefit from your services, so be sure to feature a range of up to date customer testimonials. Because you have no physical space that shows customers utilising your service, you need proof that your business is not just being used, but also enjoyed. It’s the same principle as walking into a quiet, empty restaurant – without a buzz, it can often appear obsolete and it can be a big turn off.
Finally, you will want to show that your business has a unique personality. A great way to do this is through social media, as it enables you to engage directly with your customer’s community. Remember, social media is not just about promoting your business, it’s also great for building relationships with customers, new and existing. Try posting content that you think your customers will find interesting, entertaining and make you stand out in their minds.
Finally, although it can seem more challenging to build your brand’s reputation without a physical space to do so, it can be just as effective building it online (and it’s certainly more cost effective!). Having everything online in just one place is a major benefit, as customers can easily find and book with you in just a few clicks. So treat your online space with the thought and care you would a physical space – this is your shop front to the world!