A Marketing Minute – Just Shut Up!

Do you remember the commercial where the tagline was, “ . . . but never let them see you sweat?” Here’s a new wrinkle . . .

After spending three days basking in the glory of a client receiving a national award at the annual Remodeler’s Leadership Conference, hosted by Hanley-Woods Publishing, I received the following email from someone whose marketing business we’ve been courting for several months:


Last week at the Leadership Conference, you handed me a pencil apologizing that it wasn’t what you had ordered. Is that the image that you want to portray? “We screwed up but we are using it anyway?” There was nothing wrong with the pencil that you used. Give it out and shut up or don’t give it out. If you are a 1st class shop, don’t apologize!
That’s been bothering me since it happened and I thought you would want that feedback. If I’m out of line, remember the advice is worth every penny you paid for it!


Mark is not only one of Maryland’s award-winning premier remodelers of fine, custom homes, but he also happens to be absolutely right on target!

Do I know better? Of course I do, but that single, momentary lapse in judgment, made me appear to a prospective client, as Bob Dole and my children would say, “Like a dufuss.”

What should I have done? In retrospect, just what he suggests, “Give it out and shut up . . . If you’re a first class shop, don’t apologize.”

Not one single person at the conference, besides yours truly, had the slightest inkling there was anything wrong with the imprinted carpenter’s pencil. No one knew it should have been gold over black instead of black over gold. All I managed to do was bring it to their attention. Further, I denigrated the relationship by promoting the assumption that I thought less of them by giving them a sub-standard pencil.

I can hear their collective brains whirring with, “Well, he must be going to give the better pencils to clients and prospects he REALLY likes.”

Did my ego take a trouncing? You bet! Think I’ll make that mistake again? Don’t hold your breath! Will I succeed in getting Mark’s signature at the bottom of a marketing contract? Only he knows, and he’s not talking, but perhaps one day, he’ll forget my momentary faux pas, and spread a little ink across the signature block of a Biz-comm contract.

Is there a moral in all this? Humbly I submit never apologize . . . it’s easy to get caught up in a moment, but take a second breath and think before you open your big mouth.