Marketing Consulting and Dressing for Business

marketing consulting business womanWhen I started my marketing consulting company back in 1999, I went to work every day as President of The Art of Marketing dressed the same way I had shown up for work for 20-something years (maybe more… I’ve forgotten) as Marketing & Sales Analyst for Abbott Diagnostics. Professional attire, suits, dresses, full hair and makeup. My idea of “casual Friday” was pants and a jacket.

Lessons from the Canadian Professional Sales Association

In early 2000 when I earned my Certified Sales Professional designation through the Canadian Professional Sales Association, the guideline for how to dress was to mirror the client’s style, else risk intimidating them. That point was driven home during a networking meeting when a colleague told me I intimidated him because I wore a suit and he wore jeans and a shirt. We were both dressed for business. His business was computer repair, mine was strategic planning. That taught me a valuable lesson. From that point onward, I started dressing business casual. Fast forward to today… you won’t find a suit in my closet (that fits!).

What Happened When I Dressed Up to Work From Home for a Week.

Imagine my surprise when I read Stephanie Vozza’s Fast Company article, “What Happened When I Dressed Up to Work From Home For a Week” where she poses the question, “is my relaxed dress impacting my work?” The short answer is “yes.” “Researchers Joy V. Peluchette and Katherine Karl conducted a study that was published in Human Resource Development Quarterly, and found that participants reported feeling more authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire.”

Author Mason Donovan, agrees that clothing affects your work. Here are 6 reasons why you should dress up in workplace attire:

  1. You maintain a professional perception
  2. You boost your own productivity
  3. You comply with company culture
  4. You create boundaries
  5. You give others a visual reminder
  6. You can help keep your focus

Sorry, I don’t agree with 1, 2 or 5 when working from home.  These should be covered under the topic of self-discipline. But read on to see how Stephanie tested the theory – and then tell me what you think, especially after reading the last paragraph!

“Testing The Theory

While I love my workout/work attire, I decided to try the concept and dressed as if I were going to an office for a week. What you wear to work from home should reflect the culture of your company, advises Donovan. “If you are independent, you might want to reflect the culture of clients,” he says.

I chose dress pants, a blouse, and a blazer, as well as a couple of dresses that have been collecting dust in my closet. I was very skeptical that it would make a difference, but I quickly found that I was wrong. I tend to take care of household tasks while I work, throwing in a load of laundry or taking a work break to make a bed. While it’s nice to check these tasks off of my to-do list, the practice breaks up my day and serves as an easy form of procrastination. Wearing work clothes, however, kept me in work mode. I felt more focused—even though my laundry did pile up.

I changed into casual clothes at 5 p.m., and the act gave my day a distinct shift. This felt like an improvement to work-life balance because I tend to feel like I’m always working. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel the urge to respond to after-hours emails, and I even took an entire weekend off.

Well… what do you think?

Ah-ha Marketing Moments: Sales & Marketing Tips for Small Business
© Wendy Marlow, The Art of Marketing Inc. 2016

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