I don’t know of any business that cannot stand to benefit from an influx of customers looking to spend money. However, consumers are fickle creatures who are very image conscious and asthetically driven. Personally, I am very cautious as to who I do business with, and the image you project will be the first thing that potential customers will come across and will be a major factor in whether they decide to do business with you or not.
Of course, not every business has a billion dollar marketing and advertising budget like the large, multinational corporations, but you can give the impression of being a worthy business partner, supplier, service provider, or whatever relationship you are looking to develop with potential new customers. And, it isn’t as expensive as you might think.
For starters, something like having a toll-free phone number will give the impression that you are running a highly successful company with lots of customers to handle. In actuality, a toll-free number will only run between $2 and $25 after minimal one-time set-up fees at a vendor such as Kall8. Different types of numbers will have different costs (ie: more common 800 numbers or special vanity numbers will be more than random 866 numbers).
Another method in which you can appear to be the professional you are is to actually pay for a domain name, build a website and have hosted e-mail. Let’s face it, if anyone comes up to you claiming to be an accountant, lawyer, or any other type of professional and has a gmail, yahoo, or aol e-mail address ontheir business card, you would probably throw it away as soon as they turned around. The cost to register a .com domain name is between $6.99 and $9.99 depending on where you register and for how long. Some vendors, such as www.GoDaddy.com not only have low-cost hosting for as little as $4 a month which includes plenty of e-mail accounts and more space than many small businesses need.
Speaking of business cards, do you use those free, pre-formatted cards that some design companies give for the low cost of shipping & processing? You know, the ones that have their own company logo and information on the back? If so, you are not only doing yourself a disservice, but at the same time are helping to promote that company free of charge. Or, maybe you are using the perforated blank card stock that you can get at your local office supply store and print on your own pc. In either case, you should spend the $40 or so that it costs to get a box of 1,000 cards printed on machine-cut, true-weight stock that is printed on professional machines.
The image you present to the world is always going to be the very first thing potential customers find out about you. This is not the time to be cheap about spending money, as it only takes a couple of seconds for a person to decide whether they want to find out more or not solely based upon your image. But don’t just take my word for it, look around my contact page for starters and see for yourself that I have already done all of the things I mentioned and more.