Dear Manager,

Do you remember walking into an office for the first time for an important meeting? How important was that first impression to you? My guess is that in a flash you knew immediately if this was a company with which you wanted to do business. First impressions speak in a language all their own. Just how important are your visibility and image to your success in the marketplace? Could yours be dated – is it time for a review? Our presentation is critical to our current and future success. It’s our savings account!

With time, our image can often be taken for granted. What would someone surmise in the first thirty seconds if they were to walk into your office right now? Do you find yourself pushing hard to do a last-minute clean up in anticipation of visitors? Does your place of work suggest you simply don’t care? Walk in with fresh eyes. Would you be impressed?

There are individuals who obviously thrive in the world of making an overstated impression. While this approach is beyond my comfort zone, I have to admit that their sense of theatrics has certainly gotten my attention! A reasonable portion of our overall budget should be devoted to our image and visibility. How can we put our best foot forward?

Let’s step beyond our personal office and focus on other areas of high visibility that may need an update. Is your reception area neat and pleasant, or is it cluttered with several days worth of UPS deliveries? Does your receptionist fully understand his or her value to your organization? Is their personality uplifting and enthusiastic, or is it a downer? Do first-time callers and long-term customers receive the same warm greeting?

Receptionists are our gatekeepers. While they are often skilled in
diverting unnecessary and nuisance calls, we cannot expect them to be mind readers. Have your receptionist take a name and message from each and every caller, regardless of its nature. Without knowing all circumstances of each call, how many opportunities have been lost due to our desire to avoid gate crashers?


Do you have a receptionist at all? A pleasant, confident greeting establishes the tone and level of professionalism for you and your office. The value of using automated answering systems has been highly exaggerated. Consider maintaining a specific line open for your customers’ use that provides an immediate and helpful human voice.

Regarding telephone voice, I will never forget hiring a receptionist who had recently moved to the Pacific Northwest from an area of the country with a different accent. I soon began receiving calls from my sales associates and customers, pointing out that “the person who answers the phone can’t pronounce your name.” This individual was the only scenario worse than an automated attendant!!


I’ve found that every five to seven years it’s time to give your image an update. Why not begin with a new and exciting approach to your logo? Times change, tastes change; there can be nothing more revitalizing than a timely, well-planned face lift. (We all know we’re going to need one of those sooner or later!)

Find a designer(s) who can “get into your head” and convey the true feel of your company. Ask to be provided with a number of options and logo variations. The right image can be a very powerful reflection of your organization. Relatively reasonable in cost, this single makeover can dramatically impact your image. Incorporate your new look into all your stationery, signage, brochures and trade show promotion.

If there is an area in which to consider an overstatement of your image, it should be at trade shows. Your greatest opportunity to impact a client’s perception is in “your home.” Keep in mind that your sales people and your trade show presentation will comprise 75% of your customers’ perception of your organization. I have always believed that (within reason) a trade show is your greatest opportunity to present yourself as the most dominant player in your category.

This can be done with a very reasonable (well, maybe semi-reasonable) budget. Find individuals within your organization who have a flare for design, merchandising and the ability to create the unexpected. Invest in affordable creative and effective props. Remember, your objective is to promote innovation and excitement, not just eat up footage with two-story monoliths.

Manufacturers, more than anyone else, need to assume high image visibility through name recognition. Where better to begin than with your current end-user? How is it that the average consumer will know one manufacturer by name and search it out, while others seem to go completely unnoticed?

Don’t let the use of point-of-purchase advertising be an afterthought! If it works for the “big guys” it can certainly work for you. Your signage and point-of-purchase materials are the most effective means of getting your name in front of the customer. Make them innovative and eye-catching, as they reflect the enthusiasm and flair of your product. Provide them at no cost, and with every purchase.

With the instant and global opportunities available on the internet many new options are now available. The most effective use I’ve seen has been in the promotion of products in conjunction with a listing of locations, by city, where these products can be purchased. How better to have a heightened role in your customer’s success, as well as your own? “We can put you on the ‘net!” can be a great selling tool in the field.

Sales agencies also have specific and substantial reasons to maintain their image and visibility. For example, I was actually asked to represent a major new manufacturer a number of years ago simply because their current sales team chose not to stop by the manufacturer’s booth at a national trade show! Extreme, but true.

Trade shows are obviously a great opportunity for manufacturers and sales agents to get to know one another. They are also an excellent environment in which to cultivate the image and visibility of your sales agency. Make every effort to know your competition well – their products as well as their key management. You just never know … these relationships may become even more valuable in the future. Good business suggests a broad knowledge of the market and a position of strength for all future unforeseen circumstances.

For both manufacturers and sales agencies, word of mouth is probably your greatest source of visibility and image. Unfortunately, a poor image often speaks louder than one of integrity. Reputation overrides all other surface efforts in image promotion.

Manufacturers and sales agencies have a great responsibility from top to bottom to maintain the values of the whole. Sometimes it’s wise to set aside the signage, logo, and trade show and take care of your personal image first! Your image and reputation follow you everywhere; it is found in the words that follow in your path.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2009. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM