How to Determine What Kind of Impressions Your Business is Making - dummies

How to Determine What Kind of Impressions Your Business is Making

By Consumer Dummies

The only way you can be sure you’re making consistently good impressions in your marketplace is to take inventory and assess every contact with prospects, customers, and others who deal with your business.

Surveying your marketing materials and communications

Start by pulling samples of stationery, ads, signs, brochures, coffee cups, T-shirts, online communications, and any other items that represent your business. Line them all up and evaluate them using these questions:

  • Does your business name and logo look the same every time you make an impression?

  • Do you consistently use the same colors?

  • Do you consistently use the same typeface?

  • Do your marketing materials present a consistent image in terms of look, quality, and message?

Study your samples and isolate those that don’t fit with the others, perhaps because they use outdated or inaccurate versions of your name or logo. Or maybe the colors are wrong or the tone is inconsistent. Possibly the message is witty or silly when the rest of your communications are fact‐filled and serious. Or the caliber may be unprofessional compared to the rest of your materials.

Cull the inappropriate items and then look at what’s left.

  • Does the consistent portion of your marketing materials accurately reflect your business?

  • Do your marketing materials adequately appeal to your target market?

    • For example, if you know that your customers value top quality, do your marketing materials convey a top‐quality company? Do your ads convey quality? Do you apply your logo only to prestigious advertising items? If you’re a retailer, are your shopping bags the finest you can afford? If you’re a service company, do you present your proposals in a manner that reinforces the caliber of your firm while affirming your customer’s taste level?

    • If your customers value economy, do your materials look too upscale? If so, they may telegraph the wrong message.

    • If your customers choose you primarily for convenience, do your materials put forth that assurance? Or, if customers value your reliability, do you convey that attribute through a flawless commitment to a reliably consistent projection of your identity?

In forming opinions about your company, your market relies on the impressions it gets from your communications.

Creating an impression inventory

Your business makes impressions in person, online, in ads and marketing materials, in correspondence . . . the list goes on and on. Every contact is capable of contributing to or detracting from the image you want people to hold in their minds about your business. Try the following tips:

  • Define your company’s impression points. Using the provided entries, check all impression points that apply to your business, and add any additional ways your business comes into contact with customers and prospective customers. No item is too small to include. Every impression counts.

  • Define the target market for each impression point. Is it to develop a new prospect or to communicate with an existing customer — or maybe a little bit of both? If your business has a number of customer types or product lines, you may want to get even more specific. For instance, one ad for an insurance brokerage may target property insurance prospects and another may target life insurance prospects. By defining the different purposes, the brokerage is able to gauge how much it invests in the development of each product line.

  • Rate the quality of each impression your business makes. Give each of your communication vehicles a grade of Good, Average, or Poor, based on your assessment of how well it conveys your business image, message, look, and style.

  • Who’s in charge of each impression point? Many impressions that affect a company’s image are made by those who don’t think of themselves as marketers. Nine times out of ten, no one is thinking about marketing when a cost estimate is presented, a bill is sent, or a purchase order is issued. The key is to think about the marketing impact far in advance so that you create materials, processes, and systems that advance a positive image for your company.

  • Evaluate the costs involved. What does each communication cost in terms of development, media, printing, or other expenses? After you know the answer, you can add up what you’re spending on business development, customer retention, and marketing of each product line. You may be surprised to find that you’re over‐supporting some functions and under‐supporting others, and you can adjust accordingly.

Improving the impressions you’re making

Ask yourself the following questions to assess the quality and effectiveness of the impressions your business makes:

  • Are you allocating your efforts well? Are you spending enough on efforts to keep current customers happy, or are your efforts too heavily weighted toward getting new people through the door — or vice versa?

  • Do your communications fit your image and objectives? Answer this question for every item, whether it’s an ad or a logo‐emblazoned coffee cup. Be sure that each contributes to the image you’re trying to etch in your marketplace rather than to some decision made long ago based on the powerful presentation by a sales representative.

  • Is your image consistent, professional, and well suited to the ­audiences that matter most to your business?

Use your inventory as you fine‐tune your communications. Keep it on hand. If you ever decide to change your name, logo, or overall look, this list will remind you of all the items that you need to update.

Use your impression inventory to guide changes as you strengthen the image you project to your market. Work to phase out and replace any impression points you rate as poor and to adjust and improve the quality of any impression points you rate as average.