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What Your Bathroom Says About Your Company

By Lauron Sonnier
Sonnier Marketing & Communications, Inc.

Is your corporate image in the toilet? Well, yes, actually it is. And in your reception area, shipping and receiving, fax cover sheet, invoices, voicemail, and everywhere else. In fact, it's in everything you do and in everything that represents you. No exceptions.

The bathroom is often viewed as a place to cut corners. It is, after all, just a bathroom. True, but it has your name on it, and thats enough to give it top attention. It's also another opportunity to make a great impression on your prospects, customers, vendors, employees, and anyone else who stops by. The very fact that most places overlook the space is exactly why you should be doing it up. Its an easy way to stand out, and it matters more than you may think.

For me, the bathroom is a tell-tell sign of how the company pays attention to detail, if their standards run solidly through the company, and if they really are what they say they are. When they choose to do the minimum in this space, a very personal place where everyone is likely to visit one time or another, then I wonder what else they will shortcut in the product or service they provide me.

Consider visiting a 5-star hotel with its high-end promotions, lush lobby, and stately hallway to enter into a bathroom similar to what you'd find at a football stadium. Immediately youd feel like you had been deceived, and what do you think youd be espousing to your fellow travelers all the way home? The great service at the front desk? Not a chance. The shock might not be so pronounced at an average company, but I'm guessing your marketing doesn't say you're average.

So why do we overlook the finer details of business? Because we deem them unimportant and a place to save money. Because we follow the crowd or simply don't put that much thought into them. However, today more than ever, buyers are begging for authenticity, and the proof is definitely in the details.

The GBI (great, bad, indifferent) index can help. I teach clients to use this technique to judge every decision from a marketing perspective. If we go with this choice, if we do things this way, will it make an impression that is great, bad, or indifferent? Of course we are always shooting for great and working to avoid bad, but don't be fooled into settling for indifferent as many companies do. Indifferent won't get you to the altar or keep you married. Even if it is just the bathroom, indifferent means you lost an opportunity to make a great impression and further prove you are who you say you are.

Other overlooked, but important items are fax cover sheets, invoices, and statements. These may be mundane, administrative tools, but they are the circular system of your business. They present yet more opportunities to prove your marketing point and boost your image. Dump the standard template or standard language. Turn them into marketing tools with tips, promotions, fun facts, even jokes if appropriate. You know these tools are getting read, so give the reader something usefuland memorable. They are an important part of the experience of working with you and they are not to be discounted. The same applies to voicemails, on-hold messages, email signatures, and every other communication. Go for great instead of the same old indifferent approach. If you want a great corporate image, and to get people talking, you have to give them something to talk about.

Now let's talk reception areas. I find many companies to be very confused in this matter. Everyone would agree that they should be clean and professional and some would even say pretty. But, from a marketing standpoint, they are critical spaces with much higher demands. Whether an accounting firm or manufacturing facility, your reception area should also support your image, establish the personality of your company, connect with your customer, and market your companys products or services.

I have seen many lovely reception areas, obviously molded by a talented interior designer, but void of the basic business card or brochure. Terrible! You have a captive audience with nothing to do but skim your walls, read and experience whatever you make available to them. Put that time and space to great use. Teach them about the company with your artwork. Display samples. Use video to show them why your image is what it is. Give them the specifics and proof behind your marketing claims while you know they're listening.

The bottom line is that your customers are paying attention to everything and so must you. The good news is that everything presents an image-building opportunity. Even your bathroom.

If I were to visit yours, what could I learn about you?

Lauron Sonnier is owner of Sonnier Marketing & Communications, Inc. She teaches companies and staff how to integrate effective marketing into the day-to-day running of the business. She is also host for an upcoming series of marketing tips on HoustonPBS called Standing Out with Lauron Sonnier. She may be reached at lauron@sonniermarketing.com or 281-482-2581.


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