A Rye Smile

Don’t Judge a Book…

rye street

I saw a neat little twist on the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” the other day.

Having an interest in both reading and film, it made me smile.

The phrase said: “Don’t judge a book by its film.”

Almost invariably, it is saying, the book is better.

Whether you agree with that or not there is plenty of opinion on the matter. As with most things in life.

Judgement is rife.

Yet our senses – and our sense of what the truth is – can be misguided, misdirected or fooled.

Take the image in this post. It shows one of the old, steep cobbled streets in Rye in East Sussex, in the South East of England.

If you knew nothing about this market town, close to the coast, you might just drive through the main road, pass the harbourside and head on with the thought “Well, there wasn’t much to that place”.

You judge it based on what you see.

Because your eyes were glued to the road you did not have a chance to look up.

If you did, you would have noticed, high above the steep stone wall, some houses and other buildings over the tree line. A short walk up an angled path from the roadside would bring you up into the town proper.

Here your perception of Rye would change in an instant.

The path up quickly offers views over the trees and down towards a bowling green and players in white. The way continues and as it turns a corner leads into the High Street. A quintessential English scene.

How you judge Rye will inevitably change.

You are now seeing a bigger picture…

The street is lined with shops, cafes and other eateries. It is fully geared up for locals and tourists alike. Bookshop, art and photo galleries, antique shops, newsagents, stationery shop, deli, pub and more.

Cascading down to meet the High Street are a couple of cobbled streets like the one in the picture. Each lined with neat sloping rows of houses, many featuring plant pots or hanging baskets outside. A pretty scene even on a cloudy day.

Funny, isn’t it, how we judge things so quickly.

The motorist who wants to get from A to B passes through Rye and thinks there’s not much to it. They’ll probably never return or think of stopping here another time.

The driver who spots the car park and thinks “I wonder what this place is like” will stop and follow the only obvious path up to the town centre.

This is a place where you could easily spend an hour, two hours, half a day and more.

When you enjoy a coffee or tea and cake. Or brunch. Or lunch. When you browse the lovely little art gallery or the beautiful David Purdie photographs next door. When you find an antique item of interest. When you explore the deli. When you sit and enjoy watching the world go by from a pub or cafe.

When you do one or all of these, the way you judge the place is different. Overwhelmingly more positive.

So, if there is a business lesson for Rye, it’s this. Make your town less of a secret. Tell drivers why they should stop. Make it easy for them.

Put up a sign (or signs) on the approach. Give people notice that there is a car park on the corner of the next roundabout. Let travellers know that within a few minutes walk they can be in the historic High Street and enjoy some refreshments, a good browse or simply a stroll.

Which begs another question.

How visible is your business?

And while we’re talking about how people judge a book by its cover, let me share a story with.

This story¬†illustrates the point nicely…

Now, as a writer I am always seeking inspiration, ideas and flow. Sometimes that means leaving the desktop or laptop and finding a different space.

So, I was in a cafe last week and doing some research on a prospect to see what I could do for their marketing. My table was near the window and I sat facing out.

I was thinking so intensely that I did not take any notice of two people who sat down at the table behind me. I did not look up or turn around.

As the pair began to talk I realised it was a business meeting. Two guys. Both were in the property game.

Now, as a former journalist I have to confess I can’t help myself when my ears pick up an interesting conversation. I am nosey. I know some might consider it rude but habits are hard to break. I like to ear wig.

So, part of me is scrolling web pages on my iPad and making notes. The other part is straining to hear what the two guys are talking about.

Very quickly it is clear this is a classic first meeting. One guy is the property guru. The other is seeing how they could learn from and hopefully work with the master.

I won’t reveal the details of the conversation. That wouldn’t be right. Safe to say the ‘guru’ had a system for his success – using creative approaches to buying and selling land or property without spending a fortune.

One thing the expert did stress was that however good the system, it still took a lot of hard work. It wasn’t easy. It required research, time and experience to fine-tune it.

Which I found refreshingly honest…

The expert wasn’t trying to sucker the other guy. He was being open and straight. He spoke slowly and deliberately. Quite well spoken. The other man sounded almost Asian.

And here’s the interesting bit around how we judge things, or perceive people.

The two guys eventually finished their conversation. No way was I going to leave before then. They got up and headed past me for the door.

One man was in a neat blue suit with shirt and tie, carrying a portfolio folder under one arm. Hair trimmed short and neat. Polished shoes. The other was a scruff by comparison. Large build, wavy unkempt hair, old black T-shirt, crumpled trousers and casual footwear.

Remember, we all judge at some point to some degree.

Now, if I had been a betting man I would have said the guy in the suit was the property expert, the casually-dressed guy the one here to learn.

The pair spoke again as they left the cafe. I was completely wrong.

Yep. Turns out Mr Casual was the guru. The man in the suit the willing listener.

It made me smile.

We judge.

We think we know we’re right.

Yet sometimes our judgement or perception is misplaced.

Like Rye, if your marketing or promotion is not as it could be, there’s a question or two to ask.

“How do people judge me and my business?”

“What is the common perception of my brand, my products, my services, my customer service and more?”

“Is the way I or we judge our marketing effort the right way?”

If you want a second opinion on that, simply get in touch. Contact me.

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