You might say the most important thing in business is being contactable. You could have the best TV advertisement in the world, and the best looking website, but if people can’t contact you, you’re wasting their time and your money. A lot of business people make common mistakes when it comes to being contactable. You may have made some of these yourself.
So here are ten tips to make sure your customers have difficulty contacting you.
1. Design a business card with text you can’t read.
I have some of these in my collection – business cards where the background colour and the text are so close in shade that it’s almost impossible to read the writing. If the writing is, for example, black text on a dark background, how can potential customers read your email or your telephone number? Forget trying to make people go “ooh” and “aah” over the stylish design of your business cards – the first rule of a business card is that the writing must be easy to read.
2. Create a logo that bears no relationship to your brand name.
I saw a logo recently on a business card that looks like the one in the image. It appears to be a single letter on a rounded box, but the company’s initials begin with “O”. After some consideration I realised the rounded box was meant to be an “O” with the second initial inside it. Nice visually, but useless in helping me to associate the logo with the company name.
3. Use a font that makes it impossible to distinguish numbers from letters.
The number 1 and the letter l are very good at confusing the issue. If your email address contains the letter l, could it be confused for a number 1? Ensure email addresses, in particular, are unambiguous. In our example image, the address prefix is just “lv” – this could be a person’s initials or it could be a number with a letter. Likewise, the capital letter I could be mistaken for a number in roman numerals.
4. Treat all customers like 20-something new media professionals
Many potential customers and partners are of a generation who still prefer personal contact and if you force them to use your faceless technology, you may annoy them. For example, a contact recently complained about websites that force him to use a contact form. “I want to be able to send them an email with an attachment so I can send them pictures of my products,” he said, “but I often get a form to fill in that doesn’t let me attach anything.”
5. Make your forms impossible to fill in
If you put too much validation into a form, you can frustrate people who just want to send you a quick email. The common problem with contact forms will be telephone number formatting. How many times have you tried to fill in a form and been told that the telephone number is invalid, because you have included spaces or brackets. Make forms as easy as possible to complete.
6. Leave contact information off your emails
When you send emails to people, do you sign your name at the bottom with no other information or do you include contact details, such as your telephone number? Despite the availability of address books, many people rely on their email inbox to look up contacts they have corresponded with. Including your contact information in the footer of each email makes it easier for them.
7. Leave garbled messages on voicemails
When you leave someone a voicemail message, asking them to call you back, do you rattle off your telephone number so fast that it’s impossible to make out what you are saying? Speak clearly, and make allowance for the fact that it may be a bad line at the other end.
8. Be unapproachable on LinkedIn, Facebook and other networking sites
There’s a difficult line between protecting your privacy online and being easy for people to contact you. If you are using social networking sites for business, you have to be open. People landing on a profile that says “this person is protecting their tweets” or “this Facebook profile is private” will probably not bother trying to connect with you.
9. Create a logo in a font that’s hard to read
Living in Portugal, I notice that fancy script-type fonts are popular in company logos. The trouble with some of these is they are hard to read quickly – I often see a tradesman’s van go past me with a painted company name that takes more time to read than the time it takes the van to leave my sight. Your company brand should be instantly readable – not a code that people have to decipher.
10. Publish incorrect numbers
It doesn’t have to be said, really, because everyone knows you would not, by choice, print business stationery with an incorrect email address or telephone number. It does happen though. Proof read everything before it goes to print. If you are printing new numbers, or mobiles on staff business cards, ask them to check the numbers before you print. There’s no point in handing out hundreds of cards with someone else’s phone number on them.