It was one of the first school yard tricks I learned. Puff up my chest by holding in my breath, spread my spindly arms out super wide, and walk on my tippy toes without looking like I was walking on my tippy toes. Three quick adjustments and I was able to make myself look (slightly) bigger then I really was. When I pulled it off right I was able to avoid being picked on and when I was really lucky I would even get a wink from a cheerleader.
I wish I could take credit for the “look bigger then you really are” trick, but I can’t. This method for protecting yourself from an attacker or wooing a mate has been around since the first animals walked this planet. Blow fish blow up by magnitudes. Peacocks spread their massive tails. Humans puff up their resumes. And you know what? It often works.
Why You Want to Look Bigger
Businesses can can look bigger then they really are, too. It doesn’t require lying (that will come back to bite you anyway). It just requires “puffing the chest” and “tippy toe walking” in the right places, at the right time, in front of the right prospects.
Before I tell you how to do it, you need to know why you may want to do it. As a general rule, prospects have more confidence in bigger companies. At a subconscious level, a larger company automatically indicates that it is a successful company. After all, anyone can start a business by themselves at a snap of their fingers. But growing a company to dozens of employees, or larger, must mean you are doing something right. It creates a subconscious shortcut for your prospects. Bigger translates to a safer choice.
Here’s how you make your business look bigger:
1. Market to one niche. A laser focus on one niche market affords you the time to appear at all the industry events, even if your entire corporate team is just you. By concentrating all your efforts on one industry niche, you will frequently meet the same people. The more often they see you, the more likely they are to conclude that “you are everywhere.” To those select people, your business is bigger.
2. Use multiple physical addresses. Instead of listing one mailing address on your site, considering listing multiple physical addresses. I used this method with one of my companies and listed ten mailing addresses in major cities throughout the country. Each address was a corporate office where one of my friends worked. While I never received mail at these locations, I did land a major client this way. They told me that a company with so many locations clearly “knew what they were doing” and decided to call us without considering our “tiny” competitors.
3. Get an 800 number with a professional voice system. No one cares about saving money by calling toll-free numbers any more, but an 800, 888, or 877 number implies an established business. Back your 800 number with a virtual phone system (not an answering machine), where people can navigate the phone system to get hold of you. Also, don’t use a single digit extension, instead use a system that allows 3 or 4 digit extensions.
4. Don't put your title on business cards. When your entire corporate team is just you, you have to wear multiple hats. Walking into a client to do customer service work with a card that says “President” may not convey the message of size or depth you want to. Sometimes the title “President” is exactly what you want. Other times “Technician”, “Sale Rep”, “Controller”, or dozens of other titles will serve you better. When you don’t have a title on your card, you can introduce yourself any way you like. Perfect for being bigger.
5. Pay for a professionally designed website. This should be a no brainer for any size company. If you want to put on a good impression that conveys confidence it is mandatory that you have a professional, functional site. This is particularly important if you are small. A professional site will give your prospects more confidence, and by default make you look a little bigger (or at least more accomplished) than it would otherwise.
6. Get a corporate mailing address. A home address listed as your office address assures that customers will see you as small. Even if you are managing hundreds of employees from your home office, having "25 Elderberry Lane" on your stationery isn't reassuring clients. Set up a corporate address through an office-sharing program, or through a mailbox service.
Bigger businesses naturally attract prospects more easily. Bigger businesses naturally scare away the competition a little better. Nature has proved it works over and over again. Now you can do it to.
Mike Michalowicz is the author of The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. He is a nationally recognized speaker on entrepreneurial topics and is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consultancy that helps companies whose growth has plateaued to move forward again.
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