in Business

How to look small

So many companies try to look big. Smoke and mirrors. Everyone wants to get big clients and thinks you have to be big to get big clients. I don’t think that’s entirely true. Well, not always.

I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve been involved with where techniques were used to appear as if I worked for another company… a company that looked big because we went in as a team. Here’s how it works:

#1: Everyone gets “company” business cards for the sales pitch

#2: Sometimes extra telephone lines so I can answer “thanks for calling company name, this is Chris…” Made even easier by VOIP.

#3: Email addresses (this is the most common technique, just be sure to change your signature before sending)

The reason for this post? Well, I ran across this web site. I don’t know these guys, and frankly I don’t really know what they do (very boring site if you want my opinion). But what struck me is that the only way to contact them is through a form. No phone. No email. No mailing address. Nothing.

So with that in mind, here are my tips for looking small:

#1: Don’t give out a phone number on your web site. In fact, don’t even give your address. You’re virtual so you don’t need to be anywhere. You can live in Key West for all we care!

#2: Use the word “Enterprises” in your company name, it rocks!

#3: Print your business cards using a template from Office Max. Extra points if you use VistaPrint and you got your cards for free with the little watermark on the back. You go! Saving money is good.

#4: When you join an organization and the only answers for annual revenue are ‘Under 10 Million’ or ‘Over 10 Million.’ and you choose the second one (Thanks Josh for this one!) even though your company is an army of one.

By the way, that 350nice company I mentioned designed this site, so I think they work locally here in Arizona. They look small.

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  1. haha… this post rocks because it is soo true to the way small shops think.

    The big question is do their clients buy it?

    I am willing to bet NO (at least in many cases)…particularly in this day and age where you cant be stupid with your marketing dollars like it is 1999. Clients humor this crap for the sake of not going to the big shops that cost more $$$.

  2. Joe: Great point. How many of the clients see through the smoke? When they turn you down it’s so obvious.

    I’ve been on sales pitches where 5 companies teamed up as a single entity (we just pick the biggest firm as our banner). We rarely ever get those jobs. A little internet sluthing could probably unravel these deals so easily.

  3. You’re exactly right! Clients never buy it, its easy to tell on first impressions how big your corporation really is no matter how many fake outs you try to employ.
    350 Nice has accepted that we ARE a small business and we’re in business to help other small business’. We’re not trying to get 10 million dollar contracts, we dont hide that fact, and it pays off for us in the end.

  4. I just got some “free” stuff from VistaPrint and it was a mistake, it is shockingly low quality which I wouldn’t feel comfortable handing out because it is a representation of my work – whether I make business cards or not. I have found clickbusinesscards.com to be great value, but I am not sure if they are international.