Running with Scissors

There’s a business I wanted to help out once. For a long time, I thought they didn’t want my help; turns out, I didn’t know how to help them.

It’s a salon called “Hair Techniques,” and it’s just off the food court in the building a block away from my office. For months, I saw this sign as I ate lunch. (This picture was taken in April 2009, and has recently been added to @prblog’s wonderful “Signs of Social Media” project on Flickr.)

At the time, promoting a Twitter account was quite a novelty. The sign has been down for months now, and the @hairtechniques account is barren. Could be any number of reasons:

  • Apathy
  • Conscious decision
  • Forgetfulness
  • Employee with the password left
  • Lack of return on investment

It’s probably several.

No Engagement – the Root Problem

Looking at the Tweets, you can see they are all one-way:

[blackbirdpie id="1659358904"]

[blackbirdpie id="1388761363"]

[blackbirdpie id="1446601264"]

“Come get you some” sounds like it is from the movie Army of Darkness.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

At least the one below started to build toward some engagement, and generation of word of mouth.

[blackbirdpie id="2873057052"]

Alas, it was the last one posted.

Shear Potential

When you look at the updates for the Hair Techniques, you see a lot of missed potential. Already, my head was swimming with ideas for solid engagement.

  • Offer small discounts to clients who let you send before-and-after photos on Twitpic.
  • Offer bigger discounts when the Tweet those same pics to their friends.
  • Take reservations for appointment times
  • On days when you know it will be slower, offer deep discounts to the first who comes in with the coupon code you Tweet.
  • Reminders of who is on duty, to entice clients who are waiting for their favorite.

The opportunities are ripe, because the links let you do more than just 140 letters. Active engagement with customers is easy.

Well, it’s easy for me. And that’s the trouble.

Running with Scissors

Trying to talk the manager through those ideas must have seemed like a foreign language. When you’re so close to something for a long period of time, you tend to think in terms of shortcuts and shorthand. There are so many nuances you understand instantly, that others can stare at for a week and not grasp. I was too close to both the theory and the application to effectively advocate a solution.

I might as well have grabbed a pair of scissors and started running through the salon.

Actually, if I had picked up a pair of scissors, I’d have been just as lost if they began coaching me on how to cut. “Once you balance the head and find the axis, then you have to fluff for the part line. That will tell you how far to the side you need to taper to meet the slope coming from the ear crest line…”

I have no idea what that means. It likely doesn’t mean anything to me, but rather approximates the variant of Hairdresser Klingon that only stylists can understand, as they condense years of experience and tangible skill into a language only they can use. A Thieves’ Cant in the Barber Shop.

I was answering a question they didn’t even have the syntax to ask. And that is my fault, not theirs. Don’t take for granted that everyone else sees the same layers and lines that you see.

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  1. I’m more worried about some other people running around with scissors, knowing how clumsy they are…
    And yes, valuable point about syntax and relevant questions.

  2. You make an excellent point in this post, Ike – marketers, and all professionals for that matter, tend to talk in our own lingo. Our marketing shorthand makes perfect sense to us, but is completely foreign to those outside of the industry. This example demonstrates why marketers need to talk in terms that business owners can understand and relate to.
    Thanks for sharing your experience. This is an excellent reminder and challenge for marketing pros to remember as we communicate with clients and co-workers outside of the industry.

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s encountered blank looks when trying to explain a beneficial marketing approach to a business owner. A restaurant I go to has a Facebook page and a web page. They don’t collect email addresses. I don’t get it. I’d have a note on every check about how they can get news about upcoming events and exclusive tastings (they have imported hard-to-find beers). They don’t see the potential of email marketing. The response I got was “Then someone would have to type in all those email addresses.”


  1. Running with Scissors | (via @ikepigott) | I love it when posts clearly demonstrate shitty one-wayness

  2. Ike Pigott says:

    Have you been guilty of Running with Scissors? |

  3. Mark Dykeman says:

    RT @ikepigott Have you been guilty of Running with Scissors? |

  4. Amanda Dykes says:

    RT @ikepigott: Have you been guilty of Running with Scissors? |

  5. Ike Pigott says:

    Are you guilty of Running with Scissors? |

  6. RT @ikepigott: Are you guilty of Running with Scissors? |

  7. RT @ikepigott: Have you been guilty of Running with Scissors? |

  8. Ike Pigott says:

    If you are so enthusiastic that you run with scissors, maybe you aren't ready to cut |

  9. Ike Pigott says:

    Are you running with scissors? |

  10. really great post – one we all need to read! RT @ikepigott: Are you running with scissors? |

  11. Just read this from @ikepigott – Running with Scissors –

  12. Laura Click says:

    An excellent reminder from @ikepigott on how marketers can avoid "running with Scissors":