Which of these stores would you feel comfortable buying from? Both of these stores sell second-hand goods. When a storeowner takes pride in his or her establishment they build trust, and inadvertently tell the customer “Hey I’ve been around more than a week and plan on being here for years to come”. When I see a new business open up I look at the storefront, inside and out, partly because I’m looking for new clients and partly because I have a game I play, which I call how long until it closes. Many people actually play this game without ever knowing they do. In fact, you might have played it yourself on occasion. You play it every time you walk past a store that is in disrepair and don’t go inside, or walk out after taking a step inside. You don’t trust the proprietor with your sale. Ask yourself, where would you feel comfortable buying from? This mindset needs to be carried to all aspects of a business’s sales activities—the physical storefront, any websites they maintain, all communications they send out, and how their customer service department handles complaints. Good enough is the mindset that will close a business down. How a business presents itself to customers is one of the most critical elements in ensuring success. This is especially true when you talk in terms of an online presence. The web has earned itself a reputation as a cheap alternative. For businesses, this is a double-edged sword. More customers will seek out your services online than in a brick and mortar store. However, they will have increased opportunities to shop elsewhere. As a business owner, you need to take extra care in ensuring that you are putting your best foot forward in your customers’ minds eye. When establishing your online identity, take a very critical view. Look at the leaders in your field. Does your presence match theirs? Will your customers feel confident in buying from your store when others are just a few clicks away?
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It's not hard to see and understand when you see them side by side. You need to build confidence from the first moment potential customers visit your website or walk past your store. Failure to do so will result in lost sales and potentially going out of businesses. So how do you ensure you are getting the most out of your marketing dollars? You could try to manage this yourself, and if you do, you really need to ask yourself the hard questions about your business. Are you putting your best foot forward? Have you tried to save pennies and are losing dollars? Overall, the best option is to hire a consultant. They have the technical expertise and experience, which will keep your overall costs down. By hiring a consultant, you will eliminate the learning curve of trying to muddle through it yourself, or a traditional web designer making estimations on how they think potential customers will react.