While walking downtown with a business group, we passed a homeless man. It was August. It was 100 degrees outside. And the breeze scarce.
"Can't he smell himself?" a man in the group commented after catching a whiff of the homeless man's unwholesome bouquet.
"No. No, he can't." I replied to what was supposed to be a rhetorical remark.
I get it. The man didn't wake up today smelling like that. This is a process that crept upon him, day-after-day of waking up on the streets. And, believe it or not, it happens to each of us. In business, at home, in attitude, and yes, even physically.
It Happens To All of Us - And Our Marketing
It may take on different forms:
- Procrastination: The pile of papers on the corner of your desk.
- Business attitudes: "That's the way we've always done it."
- Inoculation: We've seen that mess so much it's now invisible.
Employ this one-question audit: Would you do business with you?
If you didn't know you. If you weren't aware of the family history, struggles that your company has been able to overcome, your humble beginnings… If you were just an outsider looking in. If the only information that you were basing your decision on was the story that was being told through your marketing efforts, your public face, would you trust your business to a company that looks like yours?
I have looked through company websites where the photos make the place look abandoned. Weeds are growing up through the concrete. Spaces appear dark, empty, and dead. And the warehouse may as well have a tumbleweed blowing across the horizon.
Would you do business with them? What if this is your website?
Perception is Everything
Customers are between 50%-70% through their buying journey before they ever speak to you. You have a marketing message. If you're not managing it, it's managing you.
Outdated tools, methods, and mindsets signal to a potential customer that it's been a while since you've invested in your business. And, if you're not investing in your business, you don't believe in your company. If you don't believe in it, why should I?
Your website is one of your first touchpoints for customers.
If your primary business is through government contracts, those decision-makers are vetting you through your site.
If you're a non-profit, your donors are investigating you. B2B? B2C? We're all being evaluated.
Your digital marketing is winning or losing business.
Recognizing There Is A Problem Is the First Step to Recovery
My wife recently suggested, "Let's get our house ready to sell."
We have one child left at home. She's a High School Senior. We no longer need the 2-story 5-bedroom house. But this seemed a bit premature.
"If we're going through the trouble and expense of fixing it up," she continued, "I want to enjoy it too."
"Yea," I replied. (This was a sarcastic yea. I know I'll be doing the bulk of the "fixing up.") But I also understood her point.
While getting the house ready to sell, we noticed more. Things began to jump out at us. Things like dust on the blinds, a pile of clutter here and there, here a clutter, there a clutter, everywhere a clutter clutter... E-I-E-I-O
Unfinished home improvement projects from long ago were magically completed.
What would your company look like if you were preparing to sell it? What would you paint? What would you scrap?
I suggest doing an audit — not a financial one. But a physical, mental, and digital marketing inspection.
- Is it professional?
- Is it responsive and mobile-friendly?
- Is it customer-centric, or does it "we" all over the customer?
- Is your site easy to navigate? Easy to find answers to customers questions?
- Is your company reflected professionally?
- Be aware of the background. Are piles of paper stacked? Does it look trashy or unorganized?
- Are there unwanted photo bombers?
- Are the shots of the staff professional, or look like class picture day in school?
- Is it all about you, or is it customer-facing?
- Are you talking about what the customer cares about or the CEO?
- Are you making it clear how your product or service solves the customer's problems?