This post is in honor of what would have been my grandmother’s 100th birthday–today. There’s a good lesson in it for any marketer.
Imagine back to your childhood. You're about four or five. Christmas morning has arrived and you can't wait to unwrap your presents.
Did you ever break the ribbon, tear off the paper, open the lid, only to reveal . . . a fork???!
I can say with relative certainty that I was the only little girl on N.W. 69th Street in Oklahoma City that opened a sterling silver eating utensil each Christmas. Forks, spoons, knives. Reed & Barton. Pattern: Francis I.
Eventually, I started getting larger boxes. You know what was inside of them, don't you? My china. Lenox. Pattern: Rutledge. It was selected for me at about the same time as my silver was because my favorite color was purple. “Poorpuh,” as I was later reminded of my pronunciation, was a standout word in my immature vocabulary.
The silver, the china, the crystal chandelier in my bedroom . . . These were gifts from my grandmother: Mom-Mom.
Mom-Mom operated a gift shop out of Stanfield Drugstore for most of her life. My grandfather (Bandaddy) was the pharmacist in the other half of the building. As the proprietress, Mom-Mom outfitted not only her young granddaughter, but also most of the new brides in Seminole County.
Mom-Mom and Bandaddy (I KNOW! I didn't name them!) lived about four blocks down the street from Stanfield Drug–in a two-story, English-style, red-brick house on a small hill in Seminole. To me, it was one of the grandest I had ever seen or been in. No, they weren't rich, but it sure seemed that way. Mom-Mom made the house both elegant and home. Special touches were everywhere.
A pair of golden Lovebirds tweeted in the sunroom. Her black standard poodle paraded around with sparkling rhinestone collar. A fountain bubbled in the garden underneath the pink, feathery blossoms of the mimosa tree.
There was never a paper plate or plastic cup in Mom-Mom's home. Lettuce leaves were carefully washed and put between paper towels to dry and take their place as the prop for a cottage cheese and fruit salad.
One time I was helping Mom-Mom serve a meal to family members and got about halfway to the table before she called me back. She added a garnish of parsley to the plates I had been carrying. “Presentation is everything,” she said.
This is how everyone knew and remembers Mom-Mom.
The advice has served me well in all aspects of my life. “Presentation is everything.” It's the small things that make a difference and distinguish us from others. As an artist, it’s your attention to the detail of your matting, framing, and display. It’s the care you give your printed materials and your Web site that announce to the world that you’re a professional. It’s the care with which you treat each person you run into because you know they might be a customer one day—that you show them respect and trust.
So, how are you doing on your presentation? Is the language on your Web site inviting? Or does it reveal suspicion and distrust? Does your photography show your work in its best light or will others have to guess at the quality and colors? When you talk about your work, do you do it with enthusiasm and passion or are you timid and lacking confidence?
Remember: Presentation is everything. And you just get one chance to make a first impression.
As you can imagine, I grew to love the forks, plates, and saucers that were given to me as a child. I couldn't wait to use mine as an adult and still look for excuses to set the table with the good china. I refuse to save it only for so-called special occasions.