My Thoughts by Rick Stephens

Your Image Makes a Difference

Posted in Attitudes,General Business,Marketing Strategies by Rick on the February 14th, 2007

Raising the Flag on Iwo JimaThe other day I watched a very compelling movie produced and directed by Clint Eastwood called “Flags of Our Fathers.” It was the story of the WWII battle of Iwo Jima and the resulting media coverage in the US promoting the famous picture that resulted from that event. The message that came from that movie was interesting and one that we as business leaders should understand if we want to be successful.

The message was that image is more important than reality. According to the movie, the celebrated picture of the six Marines raising the flag atop the pinnacle of Iwo Jima was not taken when the flag was first raised, but in fact, at a later time after the battle, during a relatively calm moment. Although not staged, the raising of this flag did not occur during the heat of battle, as implied, and the men who raised it were not the same ones that planted the flag initially.

Our leaders at the time were quite aware that this photograph, and the men portrayed, was not as it seemed, but they seized the opportunity to create a gripping image of our brave Marines at a time when this country needed hope and the support of those at home. It worked.

As a business, it is vital that you maintain an image that reflects exactly what it is you want the public to see. If you own a restaurant, you don’t want patrons to walk in and see dirty tables, floors, or counters, the negative image will stay with them and your business will suffer. If you own an auto repair shop, you want your employees driving clean undamaged vehicles. If you own a florist, you want all of your flowers to be fresh and attractive. If you are a doctor or a lawyer, you want your clients to see you as being successful by creating images of professionalism in your office or waiting area.

Be very careful when making decisions about your image. What people see is what you will become. It only takes one moment for your prospects to decide if you are credible or not. The image they see will determine your success or failure.

Hanging in my office, is a picture of Pete Rose, the baseball player and manager, sliding into home plate in the style that made him famous, headfirst. He was once quoted as saying.” …And there is one more important reason that I slide headfirst. It gets my picture in the newspaper.” Be careful with your image, it is more important than reality, because it defines reality.

To Your Success,
Rick's Signature

Being Politically Correct Can Cost You

Posted in Marketing Strategies by Rick on the November 16th, 2006

I was informed yesterday that one of the major shopping outlets this year would stop greeting customers as they walk into their store with the politically correct phrase, “Happy Holidays.” Instead, they have instructed their employees to use the politically incorrect phrase of, “Merry Christmas.”

It seems that every business in the USA has changed their language around this time of the year to be inoffensive to the public by referring to the season as the holidays. We have Holiday parties instead of Christmas parties, we send out Holiday greeting cards instead of Christmas cards, and so on.

I appreciate the bold move by this major shopping outlet. Yes, they will probably get their share of criticism, but they made this move based upon a very basic business principal, market research. Through their research they determined that the consumer, on average, spends more money in their store when they are greeted with the phrase, “Merry Christmas” than they do with the generic, “Happy Holidays.”

Is it wrong for a business to remember why they are in business and to act accordingly? I think not. Every business, including yours, has the obligation to earn as much as possible for their stakeholders. The success of your business creates jobs, strengthens the economy, reduces government subsidies, and makes children happy (Merry Christmas!).

We can learn a very important business lesson here. Following the crowd may seem to be the right thing to do, but don’t fail to validate the results through quality market research. Don’t waste money or lose money because of your failure to measure results.

To everyone out there, have a Merry Christmas!!

To Your Success –

Rick's Signature