My wife and I were driving along on a lovely spring afternoon and came to a stop at a traffic light. The van in front of us had a magnetic sign for a local contractor on the back door.
We’re both marketing nerds, so we took a close look. The first thing that jumped out at us was that the sign was noticeably crooked – at least a couple inches higher on the right side than the left side.
My wife half-jokingly said, “I don’t know if I could hire a contractor who can’t even hang his sign straight.”
Neither of us could get past the fact that the sign was crooked. It was like sitting across the table from a guy with mustard on his tie.
This contractor may very well be the best in the world. But something as simple as a magnetic sign on the back of a van reflected negatively on his business.
Every word you print or publish… everything you say or do… every comment you make online… every photo or video you post… every business card or brochure you distribute… every sign you hang…
Everything is a reflection of your company and can have an impact on whether or not someone will do business with you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re saying, doing, writing, posting or sharing something on behalf of yourself and not your business. Your clients and prospects usually find it difficult, if not impossible, to separate you from your business.
You are your business.
Is my example of the contractor’s magnetic sign a bit harsh? Maybe. But my wife and I have had more than our fair share of awful experiences with contractors, so we look for any red flag that might help us avoid another nightmare.
We’re not the only ones who pay attention to for the little things, good and bad. What you consider minor can contribute to big perception problems, so you need to sweat the details.
When I see an old, beat-up sign with faded paint, missing light bulbs, chipped wood or rusted metal in front of a store or office, I wonder how that business would take care of its clients if they can’t take care of their own sign.
When I see a business card with a Gmail or Yahoo email address instead of a business domain email address, it makes me think the business is really small or not quite established.
When I see a blog post loaded with misspelled words and other errors, I assume the company is either careless or unintelligent or both.
When I see a marketing company’s blog that hasn’t been updated in months or a web designer’s website that isn’t exactly easy on the eyes, it shows me that these companies lack credibility because they don’t practice what they preach.
Of course, social media can be the world’s biggest mustard stain. Blowhards who fire off political rants usually come off as bitter and even reckless. Who wants to do business with people like that?
For the record, I’m quite confident that no political rant in the history of Facebook has ever changed someone’s vote. However, it has definitely changed how some people view the author of the rant and the business they represent.
It’s not just politics. It could be someone sharing an offensive photo or taking a stand on a controversial issue.
To be clear, I respect passionate views and believe political correctness is overrated. You have the right to say, do, write, post or share whatever you want, and I’ll always respect and defend that right.
That said, you need to accept the fact that people have an equal right to respond to your statements and positions as they see fit. Be prepared for consequences – personal, professional, emotional and financial consequences.
Think about everything you put out there for the world to see, from your blog to your business cards to an off-the-cuff Facebook post.
What kind of message are you sending? Does it do justice to your business? Could it make clients and prospects uncomfortable? Are you prepared to live with the perception it creates, and the consequences it may bring?
Remember, everything you say and do is a reflection of your business and could ultimately affect your bottom line. Do you really want people looking at you like you have mustard on your tie?