Ask Mr. Marketing: Sorry – I’m in a “meeting” right now…

By Rob Weinberg

Imagine walking into Staples and seeing the manager sitting on the toilet by the entrance.

Unsettling, isn’t it? You’d probably turn around and never shop there again. Yet this may be the exact impression your business gives your customers.

It increasingly seems not a week goes by without my calling a business contact and being told “He’s in the bathroom. Can you call back?”

All together now: “TMI!”

Call me hyper-sensitive, but whether my party’s having lunch or doing his business is, frankly, NONE of my business.

I prefer images provided by “He’s in a meeting”, “He’s out of the office”, or just “He’s not available – may I help you?”

Way too many companies are minimizing employee training to help profits. Bad training leads to poor implementation. Little effort to portray positive image hurts the bottom line.

The Commerce Department reports around 407,000 businesses start up in the U.S. annually. Many of them seem to have uncommunicative employees asking customers to send an email or call back rather than taking a message.

No matter how you slice it, this hinders a company’s professional image. And as mom always told me, there’s never a second chance to make a first impression.

Here’s the puzzle: you’re spending lots of money to get my attention. Coupons, press, online ads – all geared towards getting me to call you.

So if you’ve gotten my call, why would you want to give me a negative image of yourself?

The phone still matters for doing business, and it’s one of your first lines of defense. It provides mental pictures of the organization and, oftentimes, the caller’s first – or only – impression of the firm.

This means every company must maintain a professional image or they’re in trouble.

As good communications skills become an increasingly lost art, those who can communicate well should, in theory, rise to the top.

And those who put their best voice forward, speaking courteously and smiling when talking, will communicate best.

Okay, so I sound like an old poop. I’ll give you that. But if you only get one chance to make that impression, do you really want it to be of you sitting on the toilet?

With that said, I wish you a week of hygienic, profitable marketing.

Mr. Marketing is a 30-year marketing veteran with experience with every communications vehicle. Contact him at

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Dec 19 2011. Filed under Ask Mr. Marketing, Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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