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Looks matter for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Among US SMB owners and managers polled in May 2015 by 99designs, 87% agreed that positive customer perceptions of their brands were important, and 63% said that how customers viewed their brands was very important.
Websites are one area of importance when it comes to branding, providing companies with an opportunity to inform visitors what their brand is all about, on their own turf. As such, it’s important for sites to be in tip-top shape, and 76% of SMB owners and managers said those that looked professional attracted better customers.
Respondents from the nonprofit, entertainment, retail and advertising and marketing industries were the biggest proponents of the idea that a professional-looking website attracted more and better customers, with percentages for each group hovering around nine in 10. With the exception of real estate, finance and transportation professionals, at least two-thirds of respondents from every industry studied agreed with this statement.
It comes as somewhat of a surprise, then, that SMBs admitted to spending little time focusing on branding when starting up. When asked about the areas where they dedicated the most time when starting their businesses, just over one-quarter of respondents cited logo and branding. Interestingly, finding customers—which SMBs clearly believed branding, at least that on websites, boosted—landed in No. 1, at 68%.
They’re regretting their lack of focus on branding, based on research conducted by The Alternative Board in December 2014. When the study asked small-business owners (SBOs) worldwide which areas of their marketing strategy they would have improved when starting their businesses, brand building was far and away the top response, cited by 50%.
As a result, Rocket Lawyer found that SBOs were running to catch up. Among those surveyed in the US in December 2014, increasing marketing and brand presence was the top business priority for 2015, cited by 35.0%.
If SMBs want to avoid extra work post-launch, and offer consumers an appealing website from the go, they’d be wise to focus on branding early in the game.
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