Thursday, August 30, 2012

First Impressions

One of my favorite slogans is from an ad I’d never seen.  A teacher once told my class, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”  What I later learned to be a Head and Shoulders tagline has stuck with me for years. 

Right now, I’m witnessing this tagline in action.

My husband and I are hosting a French exchange student who arrived last week.  Pierre is a really great kid, but his English is limited.  The judgments he makes remind me of the importance of visual appeal and first impressions.

At the grocery store, I asked Pierre to pick out cereal for breakfast. His preference?  Cocoa Puffs.

On his first day of school, Pierre wasn’t sure which group in the gym was his track class.  So he went to the class with students that appealed to him most.  Cheerleading.

At the mall, Pierre quickly found a black t-shirt with white writing that reads, “Overdosed on Confidence.”  My husband and I tried to explain what the shirt meant.  We tried to help Pierre understand the innuendo associated with the word “overdose.” Pierre didn’t mind.  He said that in France, people wear shirts because, despite not knowing what they mean, they look cool.

Every day, people make judgments based on what they see.  And though most of us do speak and read English well, the lesson remains.  Whether an advertisement, a memo, our appearance, or our website, impressions matter. 

Always strive to make your first impression a great one.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Opportunity is Knocking

Last week, Del Mar College hosted “The Big Event”.  The seminar featured topics related to our region’s Booming Oilfields, International Trade, and Government Contracting. 

Experts addressed Eagle Ford Shale and anticipated regional impact.  State Representative Todd Hunter spoke about his intent to bring the cruise ship industry to Corpus Christi.  Sandy Sanders, Deputy Director of the Port of Corpus Christi, talked about huge projects that are underway, including the La Quinta Trade Gateway Terminal Project and preparations to ready the Corpus Christi Ship Channel in preparation of the Panama Canal widening and deepening.

With all this opportunity and activity around us, businesses should be positioning to get their share of the pie.  That’s where Del Mar’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) came in.

PTAC representatives provided information about how to register with the U.S. government and be considered for projects.  They discussed procurement systems and how to search for government project opportunities.  They also arranged for groups such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) to discuss programs geared towards helping small and disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal procurement market.  Representatives from local, federal, and municipal entities were also present, all willing to offer small and local businesses a hand. 

“The Big Event” affirmed that no matter what your industry, big happenings in our region translate to significant opportunity for all of us.

All this great, but useless, unless we do something with it.  So the “Big Question” now becomes: With so much opportunity knocking, will our small and local businesses answer?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Forcing the Love

The Olympics are in full-swing and celebrity endorsements are commonplace, which reminds me of a recent “guerilla endorsement” I got to make. 

My Volkswagen has ongoing issues, including a sun roof and electronic mirrors that move on their own, which scares me since I don’t know what else will do the same.  I was dreading another appointment, more inconvenience, and the dealership’s denial of my issues, until I was told I would be given a loaner.  “Hooray,” I thought!  “What a nice, unexpected gesture!”

The loaner had the dealership’s name all over it, looked like a Smart Car, and said “Peace and Love, My Friends” on the back, reinforcing a cheesy and obnoxious ad that makes my skin crawl.

I didn’t have an alternate means of transportation, so I took the loaner.  I would have preferred a root canal.

What initially looked like an act of goodwill quickly became an embarrassment and offense.

Thankfully, my car was back that afternoon (issues still an issue) and that love-mobile was returned to Volkswagen.

Certainly, we all want people to love our business.  But forced promotion under the guise of goodwill made a bad situation worse. It felt crummy to drive around town advertising and promoting a car and dealership that have continued to let me down and let issues with my car go unresolved. 

I don’t love them.  I don’t like them.  And yet, I was forced to promote them.

Next time, I’ll pass on the loaner... and on purchasing a Volkswagen.