Firms Need To Get More Image Conscious, Survey Reveals

Small firms realize that image is highly important for building their business, but do little about it, a new survey reveals.

Less than a quarter of smaller firms surveyed said they were working with their staff to enhance the appearance of the company.

The study, by mailing services company Pitney Bowes, reveals that only 25% say they are focused on improving their employees' telephone manner or written communication skills.

And when it comes to basic physical communications, such as the company's stationery, 84% remain unconvinced of the need to make changes to stay ahead of the competition.

The survey also found that marketing activities, from brochures to the Internet, remain undervalued and ineffectively used.

"Making a positive first impression in business is no different from making a positive impression at a job interview or a sales meeting," says Patrick Keddy, President of Pitney Bowes, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

"You really do only get one chance, and very little time - about 30 seconds if you're walking into a room, 45 seconds if you're on the phone. So why waste an opportunity to enhance that first impression?"

Of those who do take the leap into thinking about presentation, most tend to believe that once the tools are in place, the job is done. The majority fail to review such important image-building devices more frequently than once a year - 64% when it comes to direct mail, 54% when it comes to web pages, and approaching three-quarters when it comes to the company brochure.

"Our survey shows that small businesses... want to be seen as `reliable', 'efficient' and 'caring', but a poorly answered phone, a late appointment or an out of date web site can easily affect your credibility as a business," added Mr. Keddy.

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