The name you choose for your small business is one of the most important marketing decisions you make as an entrepreneur. You know the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Your business name is the first impression your potential customers get. It may not be fair, but people will decide in a few seconds whether they like you and your business enough to think about doing business with you. And your name is a big part of how they decide if you make the cut.
You can see how this process works in the video below. Jimmy Kimmel sent a camera crew out to interview people on the street about whether they prefer Obama Care or the Affordable Care Act.
There’s nothing new about people spouting uniformed opinions on political issues. Most people don’t pay close attention to politics. So it’s no surprise that they don’t know Obama Care and the Affordable Care Act are different names for the same thing. The key point here is that people pay attention to what they care about, and most people don’t care about politics. So when they’re asked for an opinion, they fall back to what’s easy–they form an opinion based on the name.
Marketing your small business is all about getting attention. You’re looking for people who want what you’ve got to sell. The thing is, most of your prospects aren’t really paying attention to you. They’re paying attention to all kinds of other stuff–an there’s a lot of stuff out there competing for their attention. They don’t care at all about you or your business. They care about themselves and the things that interest them.
But, when suddenly want what you’re selling, they’re going to start looking for that thing. They’re not looking for you–they’re looking for what you’ve got to sell. And if your business name doesn’t clearly tell what you’ve got to offer, you’re not going to get any of their attention.
The thing is, you may have picked your business name back when you were a newly minted entrepreneur. You didn’t know the marketing impact a good name can have. New entrepreneurs have the adrenaline and thrill of dreaming big and the creative juices are flowing. The temptation is to come up with a name that sounds unique and creative. The problem with unique and creative names is your prospects have to think–just a little bit–to understand what you offer. And most people don’t want to think at all, and they’ll just move on to the name that clearly describes the thing they want.
Imagine what you’d do if you walk into your kitchen and find water running out of the cabinet under the sink. You need a plumber–right now! If you’re searching and you see a business called “Robert’s Fluid Control Concepts” you’re going to skip right over it and land on “Bob’s Plumbing.” Because you know you need a plumber. You’re not going to take the time to figure out if Robert’s business can fix your problem.
So pick a name for your business that quickly tells what you do and what you’ve got to offer. And if you’ve already started your small business and your name doesn’t do that? Well, you’ve got a couple of options.
- You can change your name. Yes, it’s a hassle and there’s cost involved. But sometimes that’s what you have to do. I changed my business name three times. I started in business as “Deeter Construction.” I did remodeling and handyman work. When my wife joined me in business and we offered faux painting we changed our name to MorningStar Home Specialists. Yes, I know, it doesn’t clearly say what we do. I learned this lesson about naming a business the hard way. When we dropped the remodeling part of our business we changed to MorningStar Faux & Decorative Finish Studio.
- You can modify your name. We kept the MorningStar part of our name so we didn’t undermine the marketing we’d done previously. Even a small change like this has drawbacks. We had to design a new logo, get new business cards and change our website. But the cost and hassle was worth it.
- You can spend more on marketing. Think about some of the businesses you know that have unique and creative names. But you can bet they’ve spent a fair amount of money and time marketing their business and finding their niche customers. For example, Apple started out as Apple Computers. Now you know the name and what they offer. But it took them a lot of time and money to get this kind of name recognition.
Your small business name is important. Spend time thinking of what kind of first impression you want to make on your customers and “choose wisely.”