Image by Guillermo Esteves
Recently, I had the pleasure of viewing entrepreneur and online social media expert, Erin Blaskie, celebrate the 5th anniversary of her business. Erin was dressed up in a light pink fluffy tulle ballerina tutu and a sparkly silver scarf. She even sweetened the online event further by bringing out what looked to be a mouthwatering cake! Although this was obviously very different from her usual business video presentation dress, the tutu instantly announced that this was going to be fun and that I might miss out if I didn’t tune in! Erin had taken the time to think about her audience and how she could not only visually grab and maintain its attention but also bring forth her fun-loving and passionate personality. Needless to say, Erin (www.erinblaskie.com) accomplished her mission! I sure felt included in the celebration and; frankly, her presentation, in addition to her quality content, made me want to do business with her.
Erin’s online video presentation reaffirmed some thoughts that have been colliding in my head for some time. Let’s face it! It’s a new world and it requires a whole new way to engage. Like it or not, it is important to understand the power of the visual. The ballerina tutu obviously wouldn’t work for most professionals, but the point is that the tutu is a clear example that what you wear online and the way you present yourself is a very effective marketing tool. More and more marketing campaigns are going viral so why not make the most of yours and take charge of the image that you have an opportunity to create?
I am going to address strategic ways to approach your online style over the next few posts starting with the raison d’être/incentives to care about your Web 2.0 style.
From a professional standpoint, consumers want transparency these days. Providing a relevant, authentic and aesthetically pleasing visual representation of oneself online positively influences your consumers. If you look like someone your consumers can trust and who is on top of her game, the likelihood is they will do business with you. If a professional does not dress modern and appropriately within her/his field, observers tend to unconsciously think that her ideas are not modern or progressive enough. Why take this unnecessary risk? Viewers often report that when a professional doesn’t look like she takes very good care of herself, “Is she going to be able to take good care of me?” A complimentary online image will convey your genuine professional talents and business acumen.
In today’s marketplace, consumers also want to feel like they have been heard by businesses – that your business cares that your consumers’ needs have been met. An effective way to jumpstart the relationship and to keep these lines of communication open is for professionals to display an approachable appearance online. Consumers want to feel they know the people behind the goods and services. They want too ‘see’ who they might do business with and judge whether they can trust that person to care about delivering quality goods and services. Consumers will be more inclined to provide direct business, feedback, tips and referrals to those businesses they have judged positively. Take advantage of the opportunity to visually grab consumers’ attention and let them know you would appreciate a relationship with them.
Once your online look visually conveys your professional message and your competence, you will feel more empowered and more energetic in business. These traits are infectious. Nina DiSesa, Chairman of the international marketing firm McCann Erickson New York stated “effective advertising is advertising that changes the behavior of the consumer; [but also] advertising that makes people feel a certain way about a brand”. In today’s marketplace, we are our own individual brand managers selling our skills and products. Our personal presentation is the window dressing to our brand. It is imperative that we appear confident in general, but especially when our image is online.
Another incentive to focus on your personal aesthetic via today’s various online platforms is the positive impact on your bottom line. A pleasing and accessible online professional presence states you are open and ready for business. Your appearance conveys vitality and confidence and is inherently inviting.
Now is an opportune time for corporate executives to come out from behind glass walls; entrepreneurs to expand their market and go global; and techies to emerge beyond the computer screen/living room and share their expertise. It is crucial for us to make the most of all the opportunities available during this period of democratization within the marketplace.
Professionals spend so much time and energy thinking about the ‘message’ they want to convey with other marketing tools, such as websites’, newsletters’, brochures’ and business cards’ design layout and content; resumes; interview, presentation and conversational skills; even the method used to shake someone’s hand during business relations is considered. The first and most obvious ‘message’ is you! Mom was right – first impressions do matter!
To sum up, most professionals think about our personal appearance in business to some extent, but technology has changed the rules of engagement. The second installment of this three-part post series will address the degree of control we have over our professional online images.
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