Telling the truth about SME life today

Why communication is key to success

How you speak about your business, your brand, your product and even yourself will have a huge impact on how you will be perceived by investors and clients alike.  

When people think about communication, they tend to think of either written or spoken words, but communication involves every medium you use to tell your companys story. This can include your companys:

  • Logo;
  • Packaging ;
  • Sales pitch;
  • Website;
  • Staff conversations about your business;
  • Social media channels;
  • Newsletters or emails;
  • Conversations at events/networking; and
  • Receptionist greeting

And getting all of that right is a tough call. In this article, well provide you with some food for thought regarding how you can make sure that your communication is as good as it possibly can be. In planning your business look to describing your proposition, heres what you need to be thinking about:

1. Your brand

Pick a name for your business and logo that reflects your target market, your companys aims and objectives and the markets you sell into. Test your name and logo design on some existing and prospective clients and suppliers before investing heavily in any marketing collateral.

2. Your website

When you’re planning your website, irrespective of whether you design it yourself or if you hire someone to do it, you need to make sure that the end result is clean, uncluttered and easy to get around. One of the most frustrating things about websites is not being able to find what you’re looking for yet this is one of the most common errors people make. When you’re planning your navigation, do your best to keep it simple. Think about your customer when you are writing your content. What do you want them to look at, what do you want them to do and use this as the basis of your message. Also, make sure that the colours you choose are easy on the eyes and lend themselves to making the text easy to read.

3. Your voice

How you speak to your target market will make a big difference to how they perceive you and your offer. If you are trying to appeal to a young, trendy market, theres no point in adopting an old-fashioned, BBC voice. Aim to always speak in a voice that you’re comfortable with. If your target audience has its own language, use it appropriately in your communication, but avoid jargon whenever you can.

4. Your target market

In order to sell anything to anyone, you need to understand their reasons for buying. No matter what the product or service is, people buy to solve their problems. They invest in solutions that they feel are the most appropriate and cost-effective ways to relieve them of their pains. When you write any sales copy, whether it’s for a website or a sales letter or a proposition, make sure you address your target markets needs or pains succinctly and specifically. Also think about the location of your target market. If your audience isnt within the UK, there will certainly be language, cultural and local differences that should be considered.

5. Benefits vs features

Products and services are made up of features and benefits. The features of a product or service are the often tangible elements that make it up. The benefits are the things that the customer gets when they choose that solution. In many cases, benefits won’t be tangible, but that doesnt make them any less important to the buyer. When you speak about your product or service, it’s essential to present its benefits and not its features whenever you can. Adding the words which means that is a good way of converting a feature into a benefit. If you are developing a technology solution, try to restrict the techy bits of information to tech factsheets rather than overloading your sales flyers or websites with lots of techy facts.

6. Be easy to contact

It is essential to make sure when you promote your product or service that it is easy for people to get in touch. It may be that you have an email address on your website or sales letters, you might have Skype, social media channels, text or telephone numbers; but it’s essential that people have the choice of several different ways of making contact with you.

7. Tell people what you want them to do

When youve got your sales copy spot-on, dont forget to finish it off with a specific call to action. Its all too easy to forget to tell people what you want them to do, and thats a real shame. Ensuring that you make it clear what potential buyers need to do next is an essential part of the sales process and mustnt be forgotten. It could be that you encourage them to ask for more information or a call back Make sure that the next step in the buying process is crystal clear on your website and on all your sales material.

Peter Andrew is Head of Innovation at Alba Innovation Centre. Alba is a technology business incubation centre, providing advice and support to early stage businesses, and is home to some of Scotlands leading innovative tech companies.

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