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Let Your Small Business Personality Shine
by Jessica Swanson

Last week I was a lucky audience member at an Oprah taping. (And, if you know anything about me, you know that I am a die-hard Oprah fanatic.)

I had purchased the tickets at an auction a few months back and when I called the reservation line, I was given a choice of a few different dates. However, I wasn't given any information about who would be on the show or what the show was about, so I simply picked the date that fit best with my schedule.

My sister, Alicia, and I drove down to the city, got in line and soon found out that the guest on the show was none other than Adam Lampert. Now, I hate to show my age (and my obvious cluelessness about the world of entertainment), but I really had NO idea who Adam Lampert was.

Of course, the twenty-year old, Adam Lampert groupie standing in line in front of us, was clearly appalled at our lack of education. Much to her dismay she had to explain to my sister and me that Adam was the Runner-up from the last season of American Idol. She proceeded to show me her T-shirt imprinted with a picture of Adam with his jet-black, wild hair, black eyeliner and unmistaken "glam" look.

Now, I like to think of myself as pretty hip and accepting but, this Adam Lambert was definitely not my style. I think that the black nail polish just threw me for a loop.

Fast forward a few hours later and Oprah calls Adam out to the stage for an interview before he sings his first song.

Well, what can I say? He was absolutely adorable, charming, articulate and incredibly likable. In fact, I really, really LIKED Adam Lambert. Not only that, but when he performed, I was dancing and singing along with the best of the hard-core Adam fans.

After we left the show, my sister and I played his CD on full blast and, I must admit, we're now big fans. (i.e. if I didn't have kids, I'd be touring his band.)

The whole, crazy experience made me realize that as much as we avoid "judging a book by its cover," it happens all the time.

It's not fair, but prospects are going to make snap judgments the minute they encounter you and your small business. They may judge you on your looks; they may judge you on your gender; they may judge you based on the name of your company. Your prospects make their judgments based on their own personal interactions with the world, so it's impossible to determine how each prospect will judge you when they first encounter you. However, you can rest assured that you will be judged.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink states, "Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions . . . by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions."

The bottom line is that it's imperative for small business owners to discover a way for prospects to get to know them beyond that first impression. Fortunately, with the vast array of marketing tools available, this isn't a difficult task to accomplish.

In today's competitive environment, small business owners who realize that marketing is about cultivating relationships, building trust and remaining transparent are the winners.

If you're a car sales-person, you've certainly run across many individuals who have deep-seeded beliefs about your integrity. As Gladwell suggests, these prospects have developed their impression based on their own experiences and the experiences that they have heard from others.

However, you have the ability to change your prospects' experiences. It's within your power to create a brand new, positive experience for your prospect. Obviously, you need to educate, offer value and show your prospects, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are a truthful and honest car sales-person. Because, if you can show them a new reality, they will change their minds.

One of your jobs, as a small business owner, is to continually educate your prospects beyond their initial judgments. You need to showcase your personality and your own unique qualities. This doesn't mean that you have to put together a slick presentation of your tap-dance skills. You simply need to be you.

Too many small business owners are so wrapped up in "professionalism" that they're afraid to let their prospects know who they really are; this is a huge mistake. Talk to your prospects; engage them; develop a relationship with them. This is how the new Fortune 500 companies are being built -- one relationship at a time.

And remember, as you read this article, I just may be touring with Adam Lampert. He changed my reality - who would have guessed?

Jessica Swanson may be contacted at

Jessica Swanson, “The Shoestring Marketer,” has helped entrepreneurs, all over the world, explode their businesses using cutting-edge, proven and completely free marketing strategies. To download your FREE Marketing Kit, which has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, just like you, learn the exact techniques for marketing their businesses for NO-COST, visit: Shoestring Marketing Kit



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