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What Message Are You Trying To Project?

Posted by on Aug 13, 2010

A strange thing happened to my wife and I last Saturday.

Some Saturday mornings, we decide to go to what’s known as the Regional Market of Central New York. People from all over central New York sell all sorts of things there like fruits and vegetables, candies and cakes, candles and perfumes, fish, clothes, foods, etc. My wife goes almost every Saturday. I’m kind of a part time guy; I invariably have a good time (when it’s warm weather), but you have to go early if you want to be close to everything, otherwise you could have a long walk coming.

This Saturday was going along like any other. I was saying hello to babies, being my naturally friendly self, while my wife was looking at produce that she and a friend were going to share later. This particular week there happened to be a Christian group booth in the middle of one of the display areas, and as we got there I got distracted by some honey roasted cashews on a table to my right. I’m not sure what my wife was doing, as she was slightly behind me, but I heard the man ask her if she would take a flyer he wanted to give her. She politely said no, and his response was “are you ready to die?”

Because I knew she wasn’t in danger I didn’t turn around, but kind of out loud I said “I’m thinking that’s not the best sales pitch I’ve ever heard.” The women in front of me heard it and laughed, and one of them turned around and gave me a high five. I accepted it, but I was thinking “what the heck was that all about?”

In the next display area we came to, a man was smiling and holding out his flyers. This time I said no thanks and walked on, but my wife decided to take his flyer. On the front was what you see in the image: Muslims for Peace. Later on, while sitting in the car while my wife went into a new hair salon to ask some questions, I pulled the flyer out and read through it, and found it somewhat illuminating.

No, I’m not about to go out and become a Muslim. However, I have to say that the two messages my wife and I got literally within minutes of each other were drastically striking and contrary. If my only experience ever with both Christianity and Islam had been these two men, you know which way my support would have gone. The way information was presented was way different, and even though I understand the message the Christian man wanted to convey to my wife, in a public forum with lots of other people around and one chance to make a good impression, he uttered a statement that could have been taken as a threat, but was definitely taken as one of strange intolerance for someone else’s position, all from deciding she didn’t want a flyer.

Lately here I’ve been talking about influence and social media marketing, but in the past on my other blog I’ve talked about consequences and perception. Giving people a reason to dislike you more because you said something wrong rather than stating an opinion someone else may or may not like is almost never worth it if you really care about getting business, making friends, etc. I’ve talked a lot about how social media can be your friend, but sometimes it can also hurt your online and offline business if your timing is bad and your words not quite correct. Of course, as I’ve always said, if you’re ready to deal with the consequences you can say anything you want.

Of course, I have no religion or faith, so I’m not going to be changing to anything any time soon. Still, if I were at Hogwarts I’d probably have given 50 points to some house and taken 50 points away from another. I wonder who ended up scoring better on the day once my wife and I left last Saturday.

Love Couture Love Peace Sequin Tunic

Love Couture Love Peace Sequin Tunic

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Love the Regional Market!

I agree- words can make you or break you!

August 13th, 2010 | 10:24 PM
Sue T.:

Nicely done! 🙂

August 14th, 2010 | 6:07 AM

If everyone would just behave as though this were the only life we will ever have, then the afterlife — if it exists — would likely take care of itself.

I love your line about the sales pitch. And you’re right: with the shrinking time allotted to any one message, we have to be aware of what we’re saying and how it may be perceived.

August 14th, 2010 | 6:40 AM

Thanks Charles. It’s amazing what people say and then what sticks in our minds and how we perceive it.

August 14th, 2010 | 10:34 AM

Online communication isn’t always easy. Because you can’t see someones face, words can often be taken the wrong way.

Sometimes I’m not always clear or I use the wrong word and I’m misinterpreted.

August 14th, 2010 | 5:38 PM

I think we all do that, but sometimes the mistake is too big to overcome. That’s a place I hope I never cross.

August 14th, 2010 | 6:26 PM

I believe in forgiveness and I think any mistake can be overcome.

August 15th, 2010 | 1:01 AM

It’s a nice dream, Rose, but I don’t. I think there are some things that are instantly unforgivable. There are places I’ve gone where something went wrong and I’ve never gone again. Not everyone or everything gets a second chance, at least not by me.

August 15th, 2010 | 1:09 AM

It’s your choice, but none of us are PERFECT!

August 15th, 2010 | 4:00 PM

As an example, if you went to a restaurant and got severe food poisoning, are you saying you’d give them another chance? For me, there’s absolutely no way.

August 15th, 2010 | 4:04 PM

I may or may not go back to that particular restaurant. I got severe food poisoning from burgers once. I still shop all the time at that store and have even purchased those same burgers.

However, I think food poisoning is different from effective online communication and wasn’t that the message in this post?

A few things I have learned in online communication is to always give others the benefit of the doubt. Try not to assume too much and if you are making assumptions- clear those assumptions up. Be willing to admit mistakes.

August 15th, 2010 | 5:38 PM

Actually, the post in general is about communications and how they can ruin both your offline and online business. And I do understand your point about giving people the benefit of the doubt.

However, if you’re trying to get business online and you’re competing against a bunch of other people in the same industry, you don’t get the luxury of “benefit of the doubt”. For instance, if I wanted someone to write copy for me and there are 20 people I’m thinking about and 15 of those people have spelling or typing mistakes, and I mean more than one, I’m probably going to exclude them from the list and only go back to them if none of the other 5 show any creativity in their writing. Most people are that way unless given a nice endorsement from someone else.

Kind of like in my example; if I were presented with just those two choices and had to make a decision then and there, I’d have gone with Islam, no questions asked. The competition wasn’t even close. With the benefit of time, maybe one can compare the two and not have to rush to judgment based on the first two contacts. But why take the chance?

August 15th, 2010 | 5:50 PM

Ok Mitch! How about we just agree to disagree here. thank you for allowing me to join the discussion and I hope you received my email. Have a nice day! 🙂

August 15th, 2010 | 6:06 PM

We do that a lot, Rose; I enjoy it. 🙂 And no, I didn’t receive an email.

August 15th, 2010 | 6:11 PM

Then no worries. Making assumptions. lol Your post did result in my own blog post- so thanks. 😉

August 15th, 2010 | 6:15 PM

Good deal; I’ll be looking for it. 🙂

August 15th, 2010 | 6:18 PM