You know the old saying - "You don't get a second chance to make a great first impression." It's an old saying because it's true, and in this new, short-attention-span-theater e-age we are living in, it is truer than ever.

Attention spans are definitely shorter, people are busier, demands are higher, and as such, if you don't grab someone's attention quickly, they likely won't remember you. People will give your business and brand about, oh, two seconds to impress them, or they will surf on.

So, how do you do that today? Here is what works:

1. Be unique

How do you stand out in the real, non-virtual, world? You have to have a brand and business that is unique, different, and special - something that sets you apart from the crowd.

Are you the friendly lawyer or the painless dentist, or what?

Whatever the answer, that is the same thing you must do and be in the virtual world. You must have a brand that stands out and that is different. Your website, social posts, and all the rest must consistently (and constantly) reflect that unique brand positioning.

2. Have a great name

No, I am not telling you to rename your business (or am I?) but I am telling you that, for a small business especially, having a memorable name can make all the difference. I especially love names that tell you the benefit of the business, such as

  • Jiffy Lube
  • Baja Fresh
  • Quickee Mart

With attention spans being so short, your best bet for getting someone to do a double take is to have a business name that is memorable because it solves a problem or otherwise gives a solution. Why did we name this column "Brainiac Marketing"? Branding my friend, branding.

One of the great things about social media is that you can create handles that do this, that are not necessarily the exact name of your business.

3. Have a tagline

Even if your business name doesn't't include the benefits, your tagline can. "The low-price leader" or "Quality in every can" lets people know exactly what your business or product is all about. The key, the critical thing, if to use that tagline whenever people see your business name - online and off, on your site, in your store, in your email signature, on your social channels, everywhere.

4. Create a robust e-presence:

You know the fact - people find you today online. They Google your name, find your site or LinkedIn page or whatever, and that is where they check you out. So, you have to have a great site and social presence. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Having a robust e-presence is a requirement.

The good news is that if you follow this four-step path, they will find a unique business with a unique voice and will be far more likely to remember you.

Published on: Oct 31, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.