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Social media? Overrated. Search marketing? Yesterday’s news. Yellow Pages? Seriously? The real small-business marketing silver bullet is, apparently, the uniform. Yes, we’re talking blue-work-shirt-with-a- logo-and-a-name tag uniform.

According to a recent survey, conducted at Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School, the most overlooked element of small-business’ marketing is the uniform. The survey found that “80% of general building contractors found that their uniform was more effective than Internet advertising” and so on. The way these statements are phrased makes me wonder if the respondents, at least some of them, were being a little sarcastic, as in “80% of spider monkeys could install a muffler better than you, Fred.”

Oh, the study was supported by UniFirst Corp., which as you may have guessed, is “a North American leader in the supply and servicing of uniforms, workwear, and protective clothing.”

So put me down as skeptical. However, if on the next visit to my accountant, I find she’s wearing the same embroidered blue workshirt as the receptionist, well, then I’ll just have to admit I was wrong.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. It reminds me of when TransWestern Publishing purchased WorldPages in 2001. In the previous year both companies had independently hired a well known research firm to conduct a usage study in the Houston area.

    We had very similar looking reports that claimed that we both had dominant positions in the market place.

    I’ve never trusted a usage study since.

  2. Hi Dick — Only a company that made uniforms would come up with a study like this. I there is plenty of similarly dodgy \research\ out there that is more cleverly disguised, as you’ve no doubt experienced. To be fair, things like signage, uniforms, the logo on the service truck, all matter. But the conclusions of this research were just ludicrous IMHO. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Charles,

    I enjoyed your post. Statistics can be a wonderful tool or a self-serving joke. I notice that most studies do not publish the analysis methods or data distribution assumptions. As Cook and Campbell (1979) said, studies without strong statistical conclusion validity are problematic. That is a nice way of saying your accountant and receptionist will probably not be wearing the same shirt.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. As the old adage goes, there are 3 types of Lies…Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

    So much for THAT ‘Independent Research’!

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