Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Points of Contact, Points of Influence

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

This is especially true when it comes to marketing your business. Making a good impression is the first step in promoting your company to prospects and customers alike. Letters, telephone calls, postcards, newsletters, client meetings, social events, the way your receptionist greets visitors—these and many other occasions are valuable “points of contact.”

These points of contact are also “points of influence.” Each offers an opportunity to affect the perception of your company—either positively or negatively. How your company is represented at each and every one of these points of contact plays a key role in influencing how others think of your business.

Try to make every point of contact a point of positive influence. The first step is to make sure every employee in your company understands that they represent the business at all times. That includes those parts of the day and week when they are “off the clock.” Foolish behavior and loose talk can be just as devastating to your company’s image in a social setting as in a boardroom.

Next, establish standards. A part of every job description should include standards of dress and behavior that are expected. Start with key areas that are part of every business day, such as telephone etiquette, correspondence, fax procedures and customer hospitality. These are areas where “little things” mean a lot.

Standards must also be applied to all printed materials, from business cards and letterhead, to brochures and newsletters. The printed materials that leave your office serve as silent envoys for your company. Make sure they represent you favorably. Don’t settle for “good enough.” Put your best face forward in all of your marketing and business paperwork.

Every day, you and your employees make contact with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of customers and potential customers. Making the right impact every time requires discipline, training and practice at all levels of the company. Make each opportunity count. Turn these points of contact into points of positive influence.

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