I’m not sure when I heard the word “optics” as it relates to business. But I loved the sound of it.
It has that “POP” sound. A great, short word that immediately intrigued me.
So what does “optics” mean?
According to the MacMillan Buzzword Dictionary, it’s the way a situation looks to the general public.
In other words—perception.
Now perception is a fascinating topic because you actually have some control over it.
YOU choose how you appear to the world. In the phrasing of today’s journalists, you “control the narrative.” You’re controlling not just your message, but how you hope it’s perceived by the public.
It reminds me of what my father taught me, long ago. “Tell me who you’re friends with and I’ll tell you who you are.” Perfect wisdom.
I learned at an early age that appearances do count.
Hanging out with a bunch of losers would not place me in a positive light. Wearing shabby clothing would kill my expertise.
And again, in college, I learned the power of non-verbal communication. In Malcolm Gladwell’s international bestseller, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, he tells the amazing story of a psychological test.
The psychologist gave college students three ten-second videotapes of a teacher and asked the students to watch them with the sound turned off. They had no difficulty coming up with the teacher’s level of effectiveness.
The psychologist shortened the videos to five seconds. Then, the videos were shortened to an astounding two seconds and found the results were the same. When those snap judgments were compared to the evaluations of students who had been taught by that same professor—the perception was essentially the same.
So here’s how this applies to you:
What would the public see if they watched you with “the sound turned off?” Ask yourself:
- Does your marketing and sales copy communicate your authority and expertise? Is it printed on high-quality paper? Do you send out “shock and awe” boxes to prospects that clearly communicate prestige and class?
- Does your brand match your most important value?
- When you present to a live audience, do you arrive alone or do you have someone with you, like an assistant?
- When talking to a live audience, what does your environment look like? Are you meeting someone at a local Panera’s or a fancy restaurant? Or perhaps in your own office’s beautifully appointed meeting room?
- Do you have a certain piece of clothing you always wear like the color orange or a red cowboy hat?
- When serving coffee and doughnuts to prospects, do you leave everything on paper plates or do you use pretty tableware?
- If you have a receptionist and reception area, how does your receptionist look and sound? What does the reception area look like? Does the reception area focus on your business and what it can do or is the TV tuned to the local news station and various magazines are on the table?
Appearances matter. A lot.
It’s also why I am so passionate about writing sales copy. It’s one of the few times you can shape your readers’ perception of you while persuading them to choose your offer.
If you need some help, reach out to me. Meanwhile… mind your optics! And grab me for an “optics exam” if you need one. We want to make sure the world sees your business clearly and in a brilliant light.