Do you have a Skater Boy marketing mentality?

Skater boy

How many chances do you get to make a first impression? Last time I checked, it was still one. And if your blog represents you as a business professional of any type, you need to read this post. The Skater Boy marketing mentality only works for, well, skater boys. And possibly rock stars. So, if you’re in ANY other type of business, keep reading!

You may (or may not) remember the Avril Lavigne song “Skater Boy.” If you had teenagers (like I did) during the early part of this millennium, you’ve probably heard it. A few hundred times. The lesson learned from this song is, like it or not, people are judged from their appearances. Most people don’t feel comfortable being associated with someone who is perceived by others as an outcast.

Last week I was part of a team that presented a marketing seminar to about 90 Central Texas business owners. When I saw the list that included email addresses of attendees, my first thought was, “That’s it! I’m writing a blog post about this!”

What was it that prompted this post? I literally saw email addresses that went something like this (the email addresses used as examples here have been changed so as not to embarrass the owners) – DivaChild7802[at]Yahoo[dot]com, BadBoy97[at]aol[dot]com, ImmaGonnaGetcha[at]gmail[dot]com – names you wouldn’t want to repeat to your grandma, much less put on a business card!

Seriously.

And the domain names (for those who had their own website) weren’t much better. Of course, everyone’s email address wasn’t that bad, but well over 10 percent of them were. And even some of the email addresses that weren’t cause for blushing still lacked a professional sound. The problem is, these were BUSINESS professionals who owned SUCCESSFUL businesses in a large metro area.

So, what’s the solution? If you’re blogging for ANY business or professional purpose – such as promoting yourself as an author/speaker, selling products and/or services, or you’re running a business blog – get a professional email address. Period.

Here are a few tips:

  • My first suggestion is to NEVER use a Yahoo! email address for professional purposes. Why? It is (in my experience and that of many others I know) the most easily hacked email system. Whenever I start getting those spammy annoying emails from a friend who I know would never do that, I check and sure enough, they’re using Yahoo!. Objection: But I’ve used that Yahoo! address for years! (Probably since you were a teenager, right?) You can still check your old addy, but start promoting your new, professional one.
  • If you absolutely MUST use a free email provider, pick Gmail. For one, it has so many helpful features. But, avoid weird names with numbers or odd characters. Instead, use yourname[at] or yourbusinessname[at]gmail[dot]com.
  • My next suggestion – and this is really the preferred, most professional way – is to get a domain-based email address, such as yourname[at]yourdomainname[dot]com. You can also use info@ or mail@ or sales@ – the point is to use your domain name in your email address. I can’t count the number of times I’ve given my email address to someone who later told me they visited my website when they realized (from my email address) that I had my own domain. If you’re not sure how to do this, here’s a link to a previous post where I explained how to set up a domain-based email account.
  • And speaking of domains – if your professional blog is running on a free platform, what does that say about the seriousness of your business? Ten years ago, maybe even 5, that would have been okay, but not anymore. Today’s market is FAR too savvy. They can tell who is putting forth the effort and going the second mile. It’s too competitive out there to not take the extra time and effort (and yes, even a few dollars a month) to set yourself apart from the crowd by getting your own domain name, getting it hosted, and using it as the hub of your online presence.
  • Finally, if you DON’T have a website but you’re strictly using something like Facebook as your web presence (like another frightening percentage of those who attended the seminar were doing), remember you don’t OWN Facebook. You don’t have full control over what you can and can’t do on that site. I mean, you can’t even put a domain name in your cover image. It’s against their terms of service. (Or it was at the time of this post – Facebook changes constantly.) My point is, get your own domain and put forth a professional presence. If you don’t, trust me, your competitors will. And then what?

I know this was kind of a harsh post, but, like all those scoldings our parents gave us, it’s because they wanted the very best for us. And I want the very best for you. I want you to succeed in your business!

For the Skater Boy, the ending was a happy one. He’s rich and popular and on MTV and everything. But is he truly happy? I mean, he didn’t get the girl of his (high school) dreams. And all because he wore baggy pants. Don’t let something easy to fix ruin your chance at making a great first impression! The business world is FAR too competitive for that.

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2 comments ↓

#1 Edie Melson on 10.02.12 at 10:15 am

Linda, this is such VITAL info for professionals. I’m like you, amazed that so many miss it! Thanks for highlighting the need to pay attention to how we present ourselves.

#2 Linda Fulkerson on 10.02.12 at 12:49 pm

Yes, Edie, it is vital. There was a time when business professionals could keep their head in the sand about such things, but those days have long past.

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