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Tuesday’s edition of my local paper, The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, had an enhanced business section. I looked through with new interest because of my recent work with Monadnock Oil & Vinegar (MOV). On large insert on page 17 was a call for business news by the paper. It outlined how to write an effective business press release. Seriously folks? If you are in business and don’t know how to communicate with your local paper, I don’t know how you have managed so far. The fact that the Ledger felt it was necessary to run this simple side-bar tells me local company owners are asleep at the wheel.  I think they got their point across with the bullet entitled “Press Releases are not posters, fliers or website urls.”

Scan 23

My press releases about Therapeutic Misadventures resulted in stories by several local newspapers. The Holiday Book Fair garnered a little press and the past week has been a banner week for MOV. I can only take credit for getting their attention. The fact the our  ABC affiliate had a healthy eating segment  planed for their “Chronicle” show was sheer serendipity. But the producer did mention that my press release was what prompted them to call.

What struck me about the article in the paper was, why was it required in the first place? Why did they give up valuable real estate to educate? As you can see, at the bottom it says, “See page 18 in today’s paper for examples of press releases.”  I flipped eagerly to the page, anticipating these examples. There were none, but I did find another article listing “10 Tips to starting a business.” They all made perfect sense and seemed intuitive enough, though lacking  depth. As I read over them I remembered a remark I heard a customer make today, “You are so enthusiastic about this, I love it!” The remark was not aimed at me, but I smiled because if you don’t love your product, no one else will. They may buy it, use it and come back for more. If they love it, they will tell everyone about it for you.

This lead me to the rather disappointing conversations we had another day, with the neighboring store owners and vendors who stopped by. The topic was web site design and inevitably ended with someone saying, “Well, if you find someone good let me know.” I would think this was a boom market. Every new entity needs a presence and they need it fast. How can there be so much discord with business owners and their vendors for this service?

It’s not hard folks. Acknowledge what you love and do well. Delegate the parts of your business at which you don’t excel. Do you love keeping the books? Do the hours fly by when you are researching new suppliers or interviewing vendors? Then let someone else keep the shop, deal with the customers and most importantly, do the marketing.

While we are at it, another pet peeve of mine is the lack of decorum in business dress. Get a wardrobe! Doesn’t everyone have work clothes and weekend clothes? Don’t expect the world to take you seriously when you show up for your job in run-down sneakers and ill-fitting jeans. Pride in your appearance speaks to the pride you take in your work and products. You don’t have to wear a tie; a button-down shirt or polo with khaki pants are fine. Set a good example, even mechanics wear clean uniforms.

OK, I’ll get off that soap-box for the moment…

12 comments on “Business Protocol

  1. Touring NH says:

    There are definitely some parts of business people are good at and other parts, not so much. That’s why we look to people like you for guidance with marketing and some of our other business savvy shortcomings. I have to agree with the wardrobe. I almost live in my sweats but I would never show up to work in them! Maybe you should give a class/presentation on Marketing 101.

    1. Laura, there are things I know I need to leave to the professionals. I love going out with you to do photo blog posts because I learn something about shooting every time.
      As to the wardrobe issue, I think society as a whole has let that slip. When I worked in an office I was shocked daily be what people considered appropriate office wear.

  2. CindySheaNH says:

    Bravo! You are so right. In our antiques business we have found that just because you can “afford” to buy your own shop doesn’t mean you can run it. The last shop we were in was owned by a recent divorce who had a love for antiques and decorating but absolutely no business sense. When we asked her about maintaining a website, her response was, “That seems like a lot of work.” She also felt maintaining a Facebook presence was too much work. Needless to say she didn’t make it a year.

    My undergrad degree was in communications and I focused on journalism and public relations and learned how to write a proper press release. My graduate degree is in business so I understand the importance of proper marketing and how important social media is to business these days. It is so refreshing to “meet” someone who is on the same page! Thanks for putting this into words!

    1. Hi Cindy, thanks for your comments. I figured I would alienate a few folks with this post but the truth is marketing begins with how you look, how you present yourself and how your present your product to the world. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t like/understand/have an affinity for XYZ but if you want to succeed you need to recognize the importance of communication. In today’s business world, though social media is king, it has meant the demise of proper communication via the standard channels.
      Sounds like you are a solid business woman and I am so happy we met.

  3. Chris F says:

    Boy am I with you about business attire! I never thought teachers should wear office attire simply because the classroom-especially in elementary school- is rough on clothes. However, the last years of teaching I saw appalling things being worn by the young staff and thought “Geez is it me or is that inappropriate?” The admin seemed oblivious. I had a young friend who remarked on the fact that I still often wore a dress. I very patiently explained that I felt that it communicated important things to the kids about what I expected and what happened in my classroom. She seemed puzzled. sigh….

    1. Chris, I think it started for me when I noticed people going to church in sloppy attire. I always had a “church outfit” that included a hat. Beyond that, teachers were ALWAYS Mr.X or Ms./Mrs. Y and they commanded respect in their dress as well as their demeanor.

      You are so right about communicating important things to the kids, like, grown-ups take their jobs seriously enough to pay attention to the impression their appearance has on the audience.
      Those YouTube videos of WalMart shoppers may be funny but I find them to be just plain sad that folks don’t take the time to look in the mirror before leaving the house.
      Don’t we sound like cranky old ladies!!!

  4. alinekaplan says:

    I wrote a blog post called “Put Some Clothes On! about women who go outside half dressed. You can read it at: http://aknextphase.com/?p=1861 This weekend we were at a party where 13-year-old girls wore tight dresses that ended 3 inches below their butts, bare legs and shoes with 5-inch heels. They looked like little hookers–and their mothers let them go out of the house like that.

    1. Ah yes, that bare legged thing. I was headed down the road on Sunday. It was icy and coming the other way was a small truck fish-tailing and going way too fast. The truck made it past me but left the road ending up atop a stone wall smashed into a huge tree. I stopped and a young woman climbed out. She was dressed in a sheer, sleeveless dress that barely covered her butt, heels and little else. Luckily she was not hurt but she certainly was cold for as long as it took to get a tow truck to the scene.

      Might want to rethink your wardrobe folks and prepare for the unexpected, if nothing else. Loved your post.

  5. I was lucky enough to know a couple of people when I started my gardening business years ago. I never advertised and there was no internet, but through word of mouth within a year I had all the work I could handle for 7 days per week if I wanted it. All I had to sell was myself-probably the hardest thing of all.

    1. Selling oneself is definitely the the hardest, Alan. Your very ego is on the line every day and being in business for yourself means pushing beyond self-doubt and believing in what you love. I applaud you. And, I love reading your posts!

  6. mariekeates says:

    As an ex marketing girl it never ceases to amaze me how little importance some companies place on marketing. Seems to me it doesn’t matter how good your business is if no one knows about it. The most important lesson I learned in marketing though, was the value of editorial. If someone reads an advert they’re starting from a point of scepticism, when they read editorial they take it as fact.

    1. Yes and editorial can’t exist without good communication from its audience. Seems simple but as you say, not many businesses appreciate what it takes to get the job done.

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