Using Email to Bolster Your Image

No matter your business size, you can look like—and compete with—the big guys with these tips.

Whether you run your business from your home office or you have a small location with a handful of employees, you want to look professional. In fact, if you’re competing with bigger businesses, you may even want to use some key strategies that help your business look like you’ve got divisions and departments—even if they’re really just different inboxes on your desk or desktop, says Susan Mazza, CEO of Clarus Works and the founder/author of the highly acclaimed blog RandomActsofLeadership.com.

Of course, you’re not misleading anyone. But to make sure your business looks as capable as it is, try these tips to create a larger-than-real-life presence.

  • Master your domain. Purchase a domain name that matches your company name—for example, www.yourcompany.com — and use that domain for both your website and your e-mail addresses. Most of your big competitor’s do the same, Mazza says. Having a third-party or free account could raise questions about why you don’t send email addresses from your own domain, she says.
  • Make your staff look bigger. When adding new staff member email addresses, use first and last names, like John.Smart@yourcompany.com, which gives the impression that you have enough people that first and last names are warranted. It’s a different impression than just using a first name like john@yourcomany.com, as many small businesses do, Mazza says.
  • Create departmental emails. Even if you’re an organizational chart of one, consider creating department-specific email addresses such as sales@yourcompany.com or customerservice@yourcompany.com. In addition to appearing to route requests and inquiries to the proper “department,” this can also be an easy way to organize these email messages according to subject areas.
  • Use a professional signature line. Creating a professional, uniform signature line is a way for all of your business email messages to look consistent and professional. Include contact information, a link to your company web site, and perhaps one or two awards, honors or notable facts about your company. If you have a great tagline, include that, too.

When used strategically, email can be an important tool to make your business look as big and well established as its competitors.