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Market Updates

And no, I’m not talking about a portfolio chock full of stocks, bonds, and various funds. The portfolio I am referring to is a powerful marketing tool, one that will show your potential clients the work that you or your company is capable of doing.

Think about some of the uses of a business portfolio. Showing examples of the work you’ve already done gives your client ideas for what he or she might want, gives you leverage for charging a down payment, and it also serves as proof of success to potential investors or partners. In addition, it can contain a general overview of your company, describing your services and introducing your personnel

A business portfolio can come in many formats such as a photo album, presentation binder, CD-ROM, or web format. In fact, I would suggest having it available in many formats so that you can tailor the presentation of your portfolio to your audience.

Here are some ideas of what to include in your business portfolio:

1. Photographs. Preferably include professionally-taken photos as they look more, well…professional. Before and after photos are one of the most effective forms of marketing your service or product. So if you are a hairdresser, landscaper, dentist, builder, designer, painter, or anyone who provides visual results, begin photographically documenting your successes from the start with the diamond in the rough.

Other photographs you may think about including are head shots of your employees, historical photos that pertain to your business, and pictures of your staff at work. Any photos that will sell your services will do. Pictures are important because they allow the reader to scan quickly and hone in on what he or she wants to see.

2. Success stories. If you don’t have a before and after photo of a particular project, the next best thing is a success story. A success story can either be included in the form of a testimonial or written by you or a staff member (It’s best, however, if you get the customer’s written permission before including his or her particular story). Try to include a photo of the happy customer. A prospective client likes success stories – They let him know that he can develop a relationship with you and your company with confidence.

3. Thank-you letters. Like the success story, thank-you letters show potential clients that you are experienced in turning out satisfied customers. If possible, try to include the original thank-you letter on the sender’s own letterhead or in her own handwriting.

4. Impressive facts and figures. Note that I said impressive. For example, did you save people a whole lot of money last year? Well, that’s impressive. Were you recognized by a trade organization with an award or honor? Impressive. Were you able to branch out to three new locations in order to serve 25,000 more people? Impressive. Did you cut salaries and related expenses by 2%? Not impressive.

Basically use facts and figures that are a selling point to the client you are trying to woo. Create colorful charts to liven it up a bit. Boring stuff like assets, liabilities, and investments should be in the form of an annual report — available upon request.

As I stated before, a portfolio should be available in many formats. You may want to have a presentation binder for meetings in your office, a CD-ROM you can mail to prospects, and an online portfolio that people can look at on your website. Because you are using your portfolio to essentially sell your company, make sure it looks very professional – This means no typos, grammatical errors, train-wreck design schemes, or other sloppiness.

If you create a business portfolio, you will find it much easier to sell your company than on promises alone. Just make sure you make it appealing, easy to read, and that you update it every once in a while to tout your latest successes.