I’ve recently been reminded of an aspect of marketing that some people tend to forget about. Sure, there’s print advertising, social media marketing, word-of-mouth, and all of the other ways people can learn about your business. But there’s also this little thing called *public perception* that sometimes flies under the radar. If you own, manage, or even just network on behalf of a business or nonprofit organization, you become a perceived embodiment of that organization – a “face” of the company. The public will draw conclusions about the business / organization based on your behavior when you’re out and about.
A Story of a Struggling Business and Its Negative Owner
We had a new short-term project client this spring, and they proved to be quite difficult to work with much of the time. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I convinced myself that they were just scared or nervous about how their business was under-performing, and that those emotions were manifesting negatively in their communications. I also had met some of their employees who were very kind, and clearly good at what they do. So, I began to refer them to acquaintances who needed their services.
At a social gathering later in the spring, I heard a neighbor stating that they needed to have some work done that this now-former-client offered. I suggested that they contact this business, and an acquaintance also participating in the conversation quickly said, “I would NEVER call those guys.” I was curious why he so passionately opposed this suggestion, so I asked. He proceeded to tell me about a road-rage incident where the owner of the now-former-client’s company basically challenged this acquaintance to a fist-fight over their difference of opinion on how to drive on a short gravel road that their businesses shared. Knowing both parties involved in this incident, I have no doubt that the now-former-client did exactly what the acquaintance said.
The Personal Behavior of Those Associated with Your Business Is Part of Your Marketing
The point here is that the personal behavior of anyone associated with a business is going to reflect on that business, whether it was on “business time” or not. As the owner, manager, or other representative of a business, you bear that responsibility. Contribute to your community and behave appropriately in public, and people will see your business / organization as a respectable one. Be careless, reckless, and immature in your community, and people will likely choose another business for their needs.
The bad apple in the image is the business whose reputation has been tarnished by an employee or associate’s behavior. If you do something that “stands out” in public, people are going to notice it. And if you are a business person, it’s going to reflect on your business. Those good looking apples are the competitors who also personally conduct themselves with integrity.
If you choose to do things in public that stand out in a GOOD way, prepare for your business to benefit from that. But when someone is the kind of person who picks fights on the side of the road, they shouldn’t be surprised when they have to come crying to a marketing company because their phone isn’t ringing.