What Does Company Image Have to do With Successful Marketing?

Online Course: Lesson Five

Believe it or not, your company image is a key component of Brilliant small business marketing.

Why? Well, by now you have identified what will be your marketing focus and who you will be your target markets, the trick is to "attract the whom to the what".

It goes beyond looking professional and it goes beyond selecting great colors. If you create the right company image, it will help attract your target market to do business with you – and at no additional cost, so you should put some thought into this one.

For starters, what do you think is the most important aspect of your company image? Think about this for a few minutes, because very few ever get this right...

...the most important aspect is accurately reflecting what customers experience when they do business with you. In other words, ensuring you project what they can expect (to experience).

For example, if you are a casual, earthy and artsy accountant and in your marketing your company image is traditional, you will attract prospects seeking a traditional accountant. What happens when a prospect comes in for an initial appointment? They won’t be able to put their finger on it, but they will feel uneasy (even if you are the best accountant in the world.)

The psychological term for this is Cognitive Dissonance. Basically it means that the brain expected one thing and experienced another… somewhere inside, things didn’t add up. Even if the prospect can’t explain or define a problem at the logical level, at the subconscious level it exists and the prospect won’t be returning to, or referring, your business.

The best example of this that I know of actually happened to me long before I was knew much about marketing — much less cognitive dissonance. I had moved into a new neighborhood and needed a dentist. I came across an ad with a pencil sketch of a dentist in ski gear, holding rock climbing equipment, with a warm and friendly grin across his face. It was obvious the dentist was an extrovert who loved outdoor sports. Being an “outdoor person” myself, I made the call and scheduled an appointment. At the appointment, the dentist was kind and obviously highly skilled – in fact, unusually talented.

However... I never returned to the practice and every time I drove by the office, it literally puzzled me why I didn’t want to go back again. I could "never really put her finger on it" but it always bothered me that he wasn’t what I expected and it made me uncomfortable. Then, one day years later, as I was teaching a seminar and we were discussing the importance of company image –and making sure that the image accurately reflected what customers would experience. I told the story about my experience with the dentist, and one of my students in the workshop introduced me to term cognitive dissonance... it was practically an epiphany!

In his ad, the dentist reflected an image of a very extroverted, friendly, outdoorsman; one who appeared to be an open to discussing his love of the great outdoors and the things we had in common. However, the dentist was an introvert. He did not talk about his love for the outdoors and the office itself was void of anything "outdoorsy". It was a typical, quiet, "traditional" dentist office (think they kind of waiting room you sat in as a kid when your mother took you to the dentist – this is assuming of course, that pre-date the new, fun pediatric dentists!) It finally made sense – I wasn’t nuts! (Always a good feeling!)

The lesson here is to prevent this problem in your business by ensuring your image accurately reflects what prospects will experience when they do business with you. Closely match colors, fonts, creative design elements (borders, graphics, promotions, etc.) and other aspects of your marketing, to the image customers will experience when doing business with you. If you are artsy – let your marketing reflect artsy; if you are conservative, market conservatively... use conservative colors and fonts... conservative words and offers. If your marketing is friendly and extroverted – be sure you are an extrovert. There are no rights and wrongs... as long as your image accurately reflects what your prospect can expect to experience when doing business with you!

Several things will help you identify the best company image. Start with reminding yourself who your target market is and what they would naturally be attracted to. Take notes... write those things down. Use the internet to research the sites targeted at those people.

Take a look at the colors used, the fonts, and the style of graphics. Those will all give you an ideas about the type of image you should project... IF (big if there), it accurately reflects doing business with you!

Recommended Actions:

After defining your company image, document it in your Living Marketing Manual under the Messages tab.