I nearly always advocate making marketing communications as personal as possible. The more that your website, brochures, emails, and all the rest reach out to your stakeholders on a one-to-one level, the more receptive they’ll be to your message. Most humans enjoy building personal connections with others, even when those others are actually companies. The more we feel that one-to-one connection, the happier we are.


Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.


I recently attended a convention of a professional association (I won’t mention the group to protect the guilty). One of the presentations dealt with changes in web design as society moves from the desktop to mobile devices. Sounded worthwhile. The speaker was the head of interactive media for an ad agency that has been around awhile, and he was a well-dressed, good-looking man in his early 30s.


He began his presentation to this group of marketing professionals (two-thirds of them female) by talking about how making a good first impression was very important to him. And to underscore that point, he drew upon an experience from his freshman year of high school in which he was so intent on making a good impression on the upperclassmen that he wet himself while in line for a roller coaster at an amusement park. No, we’re not talking about falling in a puddle.


I’m sure the story was hysterically funny to his family and to his drinking buddies at college, but it seemed more than a little crass to an audience of professionals — especially since it took up nearly a sixth of his hour-long presentation!  And beyond the obvious “ick” factor that was reflected in the eyes of his audience (most of whom were also prospective clients for his employer), it did nothing to enhance his appearance as an expert.


I probably should have gone up afterward and pointed out that he had failed to made a good first impression, but truthfully, I was afraid of the potential consequences.