By Chris Garrett

Owning a small business is one of the most fun and most rewarding things you can do in life. However it’s also one of the most stressful and easy to fail if you don’t get off to a good start. The fact is, first impressions mean a lot to buyers. This comes down to both superficial factors (physical appearance, commercial advertisements) as well as personal branding (testimonials and anything that connects with people on a personal level). A first impression is the first step toward people giving you their business. Here are some tips on how to make a good first impression to potential buyers.

Logo and Signage

Logos and signs are more important than you might think. It doesn’t have to be a weird “Artist Formerly Known as Prince” symbol or anything like that. It can be as simple as your name with the right color or background. A sign above your offices is a good place to put your logo. Companies that provide custom printing can streamline the process. It’s worth the cost and definitely pays off when it distinguishes your place of business from competitors.

Local Ads

This can be anything from newspaper ads to bench seat ads, and even television commercials. Regardless, if you’re a small business, you’re more than likely local, or you at the least have the potential for a strong local following. Don’t skip over this important part of your market — local markets are quick to create brand loyalty, and they rightly should. Local newspapers, television stations, etc. are great starts. Even cheaper can be local flyering and putting up posters around town wherever you can get them.


There is little that’s as impacting as a personal recommendation. There’s the obvious, testimonials in ads from “customers” (which may never actually be real customers). But what I’ve found are the best referrals are customers to their friends. Giving rewards to customers for bringing their friends in is a great way to do this, and as long as you watch your finances it can be a great way to create more brand loyalty and more revenue.

There are ways to do this with online and national businesses as well — primarily through “how did you hear from us” tabs on web forms or “recommend to your friends” e-mails. The way that works, if someone sends a recommendation e-mail through your system, you can set up a system where the recipient’s e-mail is saved so if an online order is ever completed under their e-mail address, the person who referred them gets a discount or credit on their next online order. This is a great way to create brand loyalty and show your customers that you appreciate their business.

Community Activity

Show potential customers that you stand for more than just making money! Losing their respect means losing their business. Being affiliated with charities, or other businesses that hold community values shows people off the bat that you’re not just greedy. It’s important because it creates an interest and respect for you before they’ve even tried your business. Giving shout outs to those you’re helping or affiliated with, or them doing the same for you, creates a connection with their customers or supporters, and will absolutely draw more people to your business.

I hope these useful tools gave you some ideas for branding your small business and creating value from the get-go. I’d like to hear what you think!