What Not To Wear – the popular TV fashion makeover show – wasn’t just about making people more attractive. It actually had business promotion tips to change your life.
In the program, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly ambush a prospect in need of a style makeover. After she — and it was almost always a she — says “yes”, we watch as the hosts throw away her wardrobe. Because her closet is empty, she is sent to buy new clothes with a $5,000 gift card. Finally, the subject is given a new hairdo and makeup, and she celebrates her new look with Stacy and Clinton, and finally with her friends and family.
Throughout the wardrobe review and shopping process, the hosts work on the issues that keep the woman dressing so poorly. And while I have no connection with the program (besides having seen every episode), there are still more than a few times that the advice in the show is directly transferable to advertising and graphic design.
Here are some statements used repeatedly on the show — and each of them is the start of a marketing sermon.
“Dress for the body you have right now”
You think you’re overweight and wear clothes to hide your shape. You’re waiting to reach your ideal weight, so you stop buying clothes until that “someday” when you’ll finally like your body.
Here’s a news flash: Your body will never be perfect. And neither will your business. You might think you’re too big for business promotion. And small businesses are waiting to be bigger. They think they’re too new. They think they’re too old. Before they start any business promotion, they’re waiting to hire a new person. Or waiting until someone leaves.
There is always a reason not to act. And when you don’t act, the world sets your agenda, not you.
“You’ll get attention – are you comfortable with that?”
When you get a fashion makeover, you have to confront this question. And here’s where the fear begins.
What you fear will happen
When you throw away your sweats and start wearing clothes that flatter you, you feel like you’re putting on airs. You fear the world will come at you with: “Just who do you think you are?” (I used to be afraid to wear my Armani double-breasted jacket for that very reason.) You fear that if you look professional, more will be expected from you as a result. And when the rest of us find out what a fraud you are, we’ll come down hard on you.
What really happens
Looking professional before your customers doubles the perceived value of any service you provide. And like name-brand medicine, it’s rated as a great deal more effective than the same thing in a generic wrapper. You’re doing the same thing, but because you’ve got the visuals right, people attach more value to your actions.
A business promotion story: The day I became visiting royalty
I’ve got this bold blazer made up of two-and-one-half-inch white and navy stripes. Here’s a picture of me wearing it.
The first time I wore it to the office, I saw a break in the traffic on a busy street and crossed against the Don’t Walk light. While I stood on the boulevard, waiting to cross the other half of the street, the morning rush-hour traffic stopped for me. This never happens.
When I wore that jacket, people treated me differently. Total strangers said hello. Women checked me out. I had ceased to blend in. Maybe it was the jacket; maybe it the jacket’s power on me. I don’t know. What I do know is when I wear that jacket, nothing feels out of reach.
“Let’s put her in the 360 and see what happens”
The 360 is a small room made up entirely of mirrors. Surrounded by images of herself in the 360, each woman gets a very clear idea of how her fashion choices play out in public. She sees herself with a fresh point of view.
And a fresh point of view is what you need when you start business promotion. It’s the great marketing definition: “Marketing is the entire organization, as seen by the person on the street.”
You’re too close to your business to see it from the point of view of the person on the street. So, that’s the beauty of hiring someone outside your business to do your business promotion — we see the stuff you stopped noticing a long time ago.
“You need a structured outfit”
Structured clothing takes the relationship between the parts of your body and repackages them into a more pleasing arrangement. It adds volume up top to make your hips look smaller. It uses illusion to give you a waist, make your legs longer, and add inches to your short neck without surgery.
Business promotion makes your enterprise look better too. It turns negatives into positives. It repositions your competition to look like they’ve got a problem: For example:
- You’re not a national chain store? Lucky you — ’cause you must be the place with the personal service.
- Their fast-food restaurant has a kiddie playground and you don’t? Hooray! Your burger place is therefore the place for the adult burger … with the adult profit margins.
- They’re old and established? Thank heavens you’re not, because now you can be the new, innovative startup.
Graphic design gives your business a structure too: The text goes here. The company logo looks like this. Always. And it goes here. Always. The subscribe field goes here. Always. And the subscribe field is in this colour on the webpage because it’s a great match for the color of your logo on your business cards. The business cards with the rounded corners … just like the corners on the main text area of your website.
“You need to start taking time for you”
A recurring theme for the guest on What Not To Wear — particularly those with children — is that she has spent so much time taking care of others that she’s forgotten to take care of herself. When she grasps that everyone around her wants her to look great, the subject gives herself permission to take some time to care for herself.
A million different things are already eating away your day. With the responsibilities of being a parent and spouse, there’s consequently little time for business promotion — let alone taking your enterprise to the next level. When you grasp that everyone around you wants you to win at this, can you give yourself permission to take some time to work on your business — not just in your business?
“We’ll surprise her at the store”
After a few hours of shopping in a sea of options, the makeover subject starts to become overwhelmed. She thought she knew her fashion rules, but the hundreds of choices in the store blow away what seemed so clear in the TV studio. Our hosts surprise the subject on her second day of shopping and help her spend the rest of the $5,000.
The makeover subject thought that having the rules was enough. But even with the rules in hand, Stacy and Clinton show themselves to be invaluable guides.
You might be tempted to design your own company logo. Or create your own website. You’ve read some tip sheets. And you think that’s enough. But knowing the rules isn’t enough — because it’s one thing to know the rules and another thing to be good at applying them.
“Shut the front door!”
When the makeover is over, the celebration starts with the guest showing her new style to Stacy and Clinton. She looks great, and the change can be so dramatic that Stacy exclaims her amazement: “Shut the front door!”
For standing before us is the result of all this analysis, work, and shopping. And more often than not, the makeover subject says: “I feel confident in this. I feel proud in this.”
Clothes and some TLC work to affirm your life. And business promotion can affirm your work.
Advertising doesn’t just sell your business to the world. It sells your business to you.
So working on your business promotion might see you falling in love with it again.
During the run of What Not To Wear, more than 325 people got makeovers. Was the makeover worth it to them? Is a business promotion makeover right for you? It depends on just who do you think you are.
Find out more about the mental hurdles of advertising your business from our tip sheet The 9 frightening reasons you do not advertise.