Patrick Osinski : startups advisor, all about Social Media, Marketing, Business Dev, SEO, Design, Digital content, Innovation, Apps.
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"You know you're on the right track when you become uninterested in looking back."
Thursday, September 10, 2015
How Small Businesses Can Win Big Contracts
The secret to landing big contracts isn’t deeper pockets or more manpower – it’s getting prospects to trust you. Understanding this fact has not only helped our startup marketing company land on the Inc. 5000 list, but it has helped the roughly 2,000 small businesses we’ve coached to compete with the world’s largest financial institutions. Based on our experience, here are six ways you can jump-start your credibility.
Pay Attention to Branding
Branding lends an air of credibility and professionalism to any company. Small businesses can implement a successful branding strategy from the outset by ensuring that all visual assets, such as company colors and logos, are complementary and present across all marketing communications. I suggest working with an experienced web or graphic designer who can help you achieve a consistent look. Social media profiles in particular should be custom tailored to match your professional website. To date, our design department has rebranded over 230 separate companies, and in every case, there has been a measurable increase in their lead volume as a result.
Apart from consistency in design, large companies understand the importance of using a specific tone in all marketing copy. With a bit of research, small businesses can adopt this practice just as effectively. Whether your company’s tone is hip, informative, corporate, or otherwise will be dictated by your target demographic and the language they speak.
Partner With Established Businesses
One of the greatest advantages large companies have over small businesses is longevity. Fortunately, late bloomers don’t have to be left in the dust — they can borrow some of this credibility by teaming up with businesses that have already earned the trust of customers.
It’s not necessary to enter into partnerships that are long-term or legally complicated. Instead, focus on targeting established companies that complement your product line and offer to promote their products or services in exchange for an endorsement.
Besides cross-promotion, other partnership opportunities exist, particularly online. For instance, it’s common for influencers to team up and publish an opinion post or a special report on a trending issue. These posts have a tendency to go viral, and everyone involved benefits from the publicity.
Alternately, you can form partnerships with trusted nonprofits by volunteering services or helping to raise funds for community initiatives.
Pitch Prospective Clients Like an Expert
Larger companies are often jacks of all trades, masters of none. Small businesses can exploit this by specializing in underrepresented segments of the industry and using that as an angle when pitching clients.
Another pitching strategy is offering extras. The key to making the right offer is to do your research beforehand. In particular, look for areas where your prospect is weaker than their competition, and approach them with tactful suggestions for improvement. Then, follow through by offering an easy solution, such as a free consultation. One of the ways we’ve done this is by giving prospects a copy of our free ”website report card” that shows where their online presence is both strong and weak. The sum of these parts is tallied into a grade of A, B, C or D, and presented to the prospect in a way that shows how we can help them.If all else fails, it’s relatively inexpensive to produce and offer an industry report that can be used as leverage when pitching clients.
Obtain SSL encryption for pages that require users to fill out a form.
Optimize your site for speed and easy navigation.
Hire a professional copyeditor to polish all site content.
Focus on Getting Quality Testimonials
If you’re a small business or are starting a new venture, landing your first significant contract can seem like a catch-22. To persuade clients to work with you, they want proof that you can deliver. The most valuable kind of proof comes in the form of video or written testimonials from trusted businesses. The video testimonial section of our website is one of our most visited pages.
New businesses can bypass the slow grind and quickly build up a slew of testimonials by offering prospects a bargain so good they’d be foolish to turn it down. For instance, you might offer a fully featured trial version of your product or service in exchange for a favorable review. And don’t forget to offer a rewards program for clients who refer your services. Use Trust Signals
Your company website is often your first point of contact with potential clients. To earn their trust, transparency – much more so than slick web design — is crucial.
Here are a few simple ways you can put visitors to your website at ease:
The more detailed and up to date your contact information, the better. Besides a web contact form, include a toll-free number and information about office hours and estimated response times. If you run a location-independent operation such as an e-commerce store, get a virtual office address. Use departmentalized email addresses for maximum professionalism.