I have a question for you. Odds are, you are not going to like it.
Not at first anyway.
You can ignore it, of course. You can also pretend to answer it and move on to the next. You are a successful, hardworking businessperson and that is only one of the hats you wear. There are paths, roadways, and rabbit holes you decide to ignore as you work in your business.
My question is about working on – not in – your business. If your business is your 24-hour-a-day job, you have no time and every reason to ignore my question. Even if I do mean it as a gift. Step outside the bottle with me for just a second and read your label the way your potential customers do.
I have come to realize that skirts and dresses are a fantastically easy way to look ready, polished, and professional. A decent pair of shoes (they do make them in size very big if you look hard) hair pulled back and makeup as an accessory if you are so inclined and you are ready to be taken seriously. Dress pants are another option – or even a classic pair of jeans. But there was a time when skirts and dresses were an absolute No in my day-to-day life.
No – I’ll stop you right there.
My question has nothing to do with how you and your staff dress.
Full disclosure, I have a personal bias against yoga pants in most workplaces other than a yoga studio but I digress.
For me, the wearing of a skirt meant something. Something more than a professional choice of dress. And I simply did not wear them. I would occasionally buy one and end up giving it away. I did own one jean shirt- yes a skirt, but made of jeans so somehow that felt okay when a settling required my ankles to show but was not appropriate for running shorts or a bathing suit.
The answer to the question of why is not important – even if it is interesting. You will have to buy the book for that story – coming soonish to an Amazon Store near you.
But, what you do need to embrace is, that I knew I could not be true to myself and wear a skirt and so, I did not.
I am happy to say that has changed. At first, it was a conscious effort. I made the decision while packing years ago to attend “Magical Worlds” at the Wizard Academy to include some skirts. For fun. To embrace some change. Perhaps. Because I had heard about this place, it seemed potentially possible to maybe push my hard-core “Who Am I” belief about skirt wearing. Especially while listening to a Wizard and Company. (side note – if you haven’t gone to Magical Worlds, go. Sign up and go. Wear whatever you want.)
It was not a total breakthrough for my hard-core belief system as on class picture day I changed back to Leah’s signature shorts. Still, my rock-hard foundation was shaken and slowly, skirts started to sometimes be okay.
Wearing a skirt meant something to me. And so I didn’t wear one. Until what it meant to me changed and now, I wear them without thinking whenever I feel like it because it works for me. There is no longer a conflict.
I attached deep meaning to a pretty common mode of dress. (honestly- the story is worth the read).
We buy stuff because it feels like it already belongs to us or we really really wish it did.
We go to businesses that invite us and call for help from service providers we trust not to make us feel less for needing them. Each business, every movie franchise, every favorite band, and every much-loved book makes us part of a tribe. We all belong to many tribes and attach meaning to what we love – and what we don’t.
What meaning does your brand hold? Why should I – or anyone- call you when we need your product or service? Why DO people call you?
Those questions lead to the one you might not like. The big one.
What about your business brand makes someone who needs what you have go somewhere else?
The repeat customers, the raving fans, the ones who come because they find you conveniently located, or worse, are just in the habit are the low-hanging fruit of any business. Your staff did good, they like you, perhaps you are related to them, or worse, no one has presented them with a more convenient option. Yet. So they keep coming and you can rely on them. Nothing bad there. But nothing great either.
Out of 10 customers, 3 are easy.
They love you. You remind them of a favorite teacher or high school sweetheart. It’s that feeling you get miles from home in a strange city when somehow it makes perfect sense to high-five a stranger who isn’t a stranger because your favorite team’s logo is on their shirt too.
Three can’t stand you. They are velour pants (remember those?) and you rub them the wrong way. They may begrudgingly buy from you if you are the only place in town, but they are not happy about supporting you.
Ah, but the other 4. They could go either way. They are waiting for you to woo them. To give them a reason to check you out. With a story and a smile and a reason.
Why don’t these people call you?
Let’s reverse-engineer that question. We can remind the 3 people who love you and use your business why they do and perhaps intrigue the 3 who are unsure to at least give you a try. When we make your business real to the important 4 that honestly, never actually had you on their radar, I guarantee a couple of them will try you on for size.
Advertising is word of mouth taken to the next level. Working on your business not just in it helps direct what people say at a party when your name comes up. What they feel. Not about your industry, but your business.
Your unique and very special story – you have one, I promise – is waiting to be found. I’ll hold the mirror at a bunch of different angles, and it will take a bit of time, but you will be delighted. So will your customers. And you don’t have to wear a skirt, unless you want to.
- Candy Lady Secrets: How to Make Customers Feel Like They’re Winning - December 1, 2023
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- Not all who wander are lost. Unless your brand’s marketing wanders. - November 14, 2023