I remember back in my early days working in advertising agencies, when it was time to pitch a new client for their business, the agency would put on what they fondly referred to as a “dog and pony show.” While there was definitely focus on the content and ideas they were pitching to the potential client, it was also about “wowing” them with materials that were creative and looked professional and polished, making sure the office was neat and clean and presented a nice image, and even creating a personalized welcome sign to greet the prospective client when they arrived at the agency.
For a long time I didn’t really understand why all the “hoopla.” I was of the mindset that what mattered was the content. If we had good ideas, that’s all that should matter. Well a few years in the agency business, and many new business pitches and “dog and pony shows” later and I realized that while content is important, PRESENTATION is everything!
It’s simply not enough just to deliver the goods, because in order to deliver the goods you have to first get the attention of your prospect and they must see you as professional and worthy of their investment.
As a home-based business owner, if you have a shoddy-looking website that looks like something your teenager threw together, ask yourself what impression are you giving prospective clients about investing with you? The message you’re sending is that YOU won’t even invest in you. So how can you expect them to invest in you? And, let’s face it, professional quality websites are not that expensive these days. I have had complete websites designed and built for under $500.
This also extends to your photo on your website.
First of all, if you’re a service provider, make sure you have a photo of yourself, if not in the web page header, at least on the About Us page. People want to see who they are doing business with. They can’t meet you in person, so having a good photo can go a long way toward building the trust factor.
Make sure your photo looks professional and its current (there’s nothing worse than a 10-year-old head shot where you don’t even recognize the person when you meet them!). And make sure your photo represents the right image for you and your business. If you sell high-end coaching to successful corporate professionals, a photo of you in shorts and flip-flops probably won’t cut it.
Yes you can invest a lot in a head shot, and you may choose to when your business gets more successful, but to start out with a professional head shot does not have to be expensive. Find a local photography studio, have them shoot you on a white background and shoot several shots so you have a variety to choose from.
If you’re on a really tight budget, and you know someone who is a good photographer, you can do it yourself. Just make sure it doesn’t look like your 5 year old took the photo. And have them shoot you with a plain background if possible so the focus is on you.
Many people may believe that it’s not right that appearances matter so much. Just like I didn’t get it in my earlier years in marketing. But like it or not, people do judge a book by its cover, and they will judge you based on how professional you and your marketing materials look. Give yourself an advantage by paying attention to this and always making sure your marketing and anything you put out on behalf of your business looks professional.