Running a business can be a lot of work. That’s why it’s important to make sure that hard work pays off with return customers and being the place that people remember long after they’re done doing business with you. You can be memorable in a big way, or a small way, but there are many different ways to leave a lasting impression on your clients.

Being noticed and remembered is the best marketing tool
You can spend thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign that no one remembers, or you can let your product or service do the talking for you. If you have a product worth advertising, you have a product that should speak for itself.

If you provide a service that goes above and beyond expectations, you’re doing your job the best way it can be done, and you’re leaving a positive impression on your clients. If your clients like your service, they’re going to tell their friends about it.

Better yet, in some fields, if your work speaks for itself, people are going to ask about it. A great haircut with a pleased patron leaves a much bigger impression than a business card can ever do. If your product or service isn’t as showy, then the experience has to be one worthy of sharing.

Think outside the box
Sure, there are industry standards and certain expectations you must meet in order to run a business, but that doesn’t also mean you can’t do things your own way. Think outside the box.
If you work best in the late afternoon and evenings, who says you have to be open during the typical 9 to 5? People will remember your business as catering to working folks when they can stop in after their normal shifts. It will leave an impression on them, and you’ll be happy because you don’t have to fight the morning traffic. I know plenty of people who would rather visit their dentist after work instead of taking a personal day off.

There are many ways you can think outside the box to leave an impression and make your business work for you and your lifestyle. It’s your business… if it can’t work for you, it’ll be hard to work for your clients.

Little things can be just as memorable as extravagant things
And it doesn’t even have to be something big to leave an impression. Love cats? Bring your cat to work with you and set up a bed in the reception area so she can greet clients. Offer hot afternoon donuts and coffee to clients while their car is being serviced, or have a breakfast for dinner special at your restaurant and encourage patrons to wear pajamas on Tuesdays. Set your own standards. These may be little things, but they show you are thinking about your clients and also make you easy to remember.

Chances are rather than digging around for the old service slip the next time someone needs an oil change, they’ll remember the donut place. Little things can make a big difference when it comes to remembering a good experience.

Let your quality and service speak for you
When I have a great first experience as a customer, chances are I will visit that business again and again, even if the prices aren’t the best around. Customer experience is necessary. In a time where automated calls outnumber humans, people seek out other people for a good experience.

Give your customer facing employees the tools needed to solve problems and leave a positive impression on customers. I’ve been to businesses where lower level employees don’t have any power or resources to fix things, and you have to come back in two days to speak to a supervisor, who may then refer you to a manager who may or may not offer problem resolution. That means someone is leaving your business with a sour taste in their mouth. You don’t want that.

I once worked in a hotel that authorized every employee to refund guest room cost if they weren’t happy with their stay. It wasn’t often needed, but when it was, anyone was able to instantly resolve the issue. Of those refunds, most of them became return guests. If someone walks out the door with no resolution, there are slim chances they’ll come back. Leave the right impression.

Handle Criticism with Eloquence
When becoming memorable, also comes the fear of mistakes and bad experiences becoming memorable, too. No one wants to make mistakes, but they are inevitable. Knowing how to appropriately react and respond can leave more of a positive impression than some fully positive interactions.

Especially with social media, if someone has a bad experience and you’re unable to address it before it hits the web, how you respond is key. People are then able to see both parts of the story and see how you act under pressure.

Don’t follow the trend, set the trend
Think a step ahead of the competition and be the one who sets the trends. Offer such innovation that other companies look to your practices when it comes time to upgrade. Usually by the time a trend becomes trendy, those who started it are already looking for the next improvement. Be innovative and creative. Always look towards the future. Be the business that other businesses imitate.

Chances are, once something is a trend, you’re not going to be able to set yourself apart by offering it. It will be convenient, and probably bring you revenue, but it won’t make you memorable. If you’re the first one in your city to offer a new trend though, you’ll be the one that’s remembered. You’ll be known as the cafe that introduced cronuts and pumpkin spice to your customers, not as just another place to get a cheap knockoff.

Once you’ve figured out what makes your business memorable, own it, and do it better than the rest. Do what works for you and your product. Not all businesses are destined to be the trendsetters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be the one with the cat.

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