Often, it's the small things - details - that can have, when combined together, an impact on the overall presentation you make before a client. Customers when entering a store with soothing music respond more favorably than a store without music. A frequent example I will use throughout my posts will be the Nordstroms vs. Target vs. Wal-Mart business models. In Nordstroms, there is frequently a pianist playing music in the escalator or main entrances of their stores, and this has a very positive impact on the first impression the customer has when they enter. Details details details.
So to will your clients gauge your professionalism based upon little things, like your e-mail, address, and phone numbers.
Here are email addresses. I've ranked them from worst to best:
Do not use free email accounts to conduct business. Period. Spend the $7 a month to host a domain at somewhere like pair.com, where you can have all sorts of functionality, web mail, forwarding, etc. Others considering doing business with you will feel as if you are not professional nor locatable if you are using a freebie email account.
If you are John Smith, just drop the last name from the email prefix.
Whichever city you are in, get the primary area code for that city as your #. You will be seen as more established. 202 for DC, 212 for NYC, 415 for SF. With number portability, you should NEVER have to change phone numbers again. Your phone number is your lifeline to repeat business. If I were in a town like NYC, where a 212 # is next to impossible, I would go on a waiting list to get one, even if I had to do it by temporarily getting a landline account, which, once I got the number, I would flip to my preferred cell carrier or VOIP service.
While next to impossible, get "hundred" #'s. My cell #'s are (202) 255-4500, (202) 258-3500, and my wife's is a variation of those, also ending in "00". You'd be amazed at how people respond to that, and how many people with caller ID take my calls because it's percieved I am calling from another business (I am, but not as a big a one as they probably were expecting.) If "hundred" numbers are not possible, get easy to dial #'s. Mine is (202) 544-4578, all in a square on the dialpad. Also, get sequential #'s wherever possible. I have: (800) 544-4577 - office; (202) 544-4578 - office; (202) 544-4579 - fax. People again percieve these as business #'s, and treat them accordingly.
Addresses are the same, which is a business on the corner of 17th and K streets here in DC, will opt for the K Street address, because that's the famed street where all high powered lobbyists have their offices. I once had an address on K street, it was an apartment on the other side of the convention center, and my address for my business was 200 K Street, NW, Suite 619. Note that that was my apartment, but people saw "suite" and it came across much more professionally than "Apt", "Apartment", or, god forbid "#".
Further, your address must be able to send and receive overnight packages, and a PO box can't do that. The Postal Annex, and other similar services can work around this, however, make absolutely certain that they can send/receive. Some places have a fixed address that would normally meet that requirement, but have been refused by carriers because of their "po box"-esque services.
Certainly, if you are a student, moving around a lot, a fixed address, over time, is going to serve you better than the annual address change.
However, ask yourself this question -- do I want to do business with, send money to, etc:
- 1000 South Main Street, Anytown USA 12345
- 1050 South Main Street, Suite 500, Anytown USA 12345
- 3233 South Main Street, Apt 702, Anytown USA 12345
- 4179 S. Main St, #145, Anytown USA 12345
- P.O. Box 3454, Anytown USA 12345
The 1050 address type would be what you could use at a Postal Annex/Mailboxes Etc type service, also, spell out everything.
Yes, each of these issues, from phone #, to email, to address, in and of themselves are small things, however, who below comes across as more professional, when these items are combined, and put together in your email signature:
- John Smith
John Smith Photography
1050 South Main Street, Suite 500
Anytown USA 12345
(800) 555-1212 - Toll free
(212) 555-1213 - Office
(212) 555-1214 - Fax
- John Smith
PO Box 3454
(646) 134-5129 - Office
Take the time now to modify your outward presentation to clients, and it just might win you a few additional clients.