Too Many Tattoo’s … or Not Enough?Posted by: David Jardine | Connect with me on Google+
The guy behind the counter looked up as I walked in and set the buzzer off. I made eye contact, smiled and gave him the ‘howitgoin’ nod before moving to the back of the shop, on the hunt for my purchases. After scouring the head-high shelves and filtering out the advertising noise I was able to make my selection and head back to the counter.
The guy looked up from his magazine and gave me the ‘nod’ again, and I watched as his eyes sized up my arms. His face registered a very swift, but equally complex set of reactions. Ranging from mild apprehension, through to curiosity, and finally an awareness that he was staring started to dawn on him. He looked away to the till and rang up my purchase but I could tell his mind was ticking.
I could almost hear him thinking:
“Wow, this guy has a LOT of tattoo’s, he must be some kind of crazy/violent/weirdo guy, but the tattoos look great and really bright, I don’t think he’s a maniac, and besides he’s smiling and I’m a guy too …”
until eventually he decides to say “Nice tatts man, they look great. Really bright colours!”
To which I reply “Thanks, I got most of them here from a friend of mine, he’s pretty talented”
The guy looks visibly relieved, like he’s passed some internal test of courage or something. Add that to a social acceptance agreement thats passed silently between us, and there is a space of mutual understanding and respect in that instant. I pay for my purchase and leave.
This happens to me on a daily basis. With full sleeves of visible tattoos you have to expect that they get attention. Ordinarily this is a non-event to me, it happens so often I barely register it.
But not this time.
This time a question popped into my mind.
“What would have happened if I had even MORE tattoos?”
Is there a socially acceptable limit to how many tattoos a person has before the guy behind the counter will simply decide NOT to say anything. Maybe he decides that I’m not friendly looking anymore, or that the risk of giving offence is too great? Better to say nothing than to piss the tattooed guy off?
And then the barrage of internal questions really opened up!
“Do I want to find out how many is too many? What happens if people form silent opinions about me when Im right there in front of them, but choose to keep them silent instead of risking engaging with me? Is it a valid reaction, or should I be taking a self-validating stance that people should be ‘more open and accepting’ (or other validating position?). What consequences am I suffering that I don’t even realise simply because I have become so accustomed to how people react to me that I now just accept this as ‘how it is’?”
In my social world, my tattoos are my advertising – my marketing if you like. It’s mostly unintentional, partly accidental, partly societal conditioning – but definitely real.
In my business world, my social media presence is my virtual ‘skin’ – and my online activities are my tattoos.
So are yours.
In order to maintain the perception people have of me (as far as is within my control) I need to maintain a clear awareness of how people are reacting to my ‘brand’. If the feedback I start to get becomes overly negative, I know I’ve gone too far in any one direction. By constantly monitoring and measuring the success or failure of my social media activities I can make adjustments as I go along until I have dialed in to the ‘sweet spot’ where my customers are comfortable and eager to give me feedback, and their perception of my professionalism is based on my outcomes.
Have you asked yourself ‘how are people reacting to me in business’? Have you surveyed your clients? When was the last time you did a market feedback study, or a simple poll for existing users? Perhaps a social media based competition to see how your market responds to you? Are you busily going about getting more tattoos, and alienating your target market?
At what point does your market simply decide it’s too hard to tell you what they really think?
That’s a position you can’t afford in business. In my personal life I may have to adjust to more sideways looks or a few more silent salespeople, but in business it’s a sure sign of a slow death. When your market begins to turn away from you because of their perception of you there is very little you can do to stop it if you are not aware of it.
Are you really listening to what your market is telling you?
Are you even asking them?
Let me know how you measure your online reputation in the comments below.