In Business, One Size Does Not Fit All

Get to know your patrons to build trust

I tried a different nail salon recently – and loved it. Housed in a historic downtown building, this small, boutique nail salon is owned and operated by a driven business woman who is also a mom with two kids. Her staff consists of a small but trusted close-knit team of locals who seem to have quite a bit of chemistry. Right from the beginning, I knew this experience would be different.

The Brand’s Online to In-Person Experience

Before I went in, I visited the website to see what kind of services the boutique offered, and to view some of the staff. Bingo. I easily booked my appointment online and in true omni-hannel form, was welcomed with an offer of tea or water as soon as I walked in the door. The brand promise on the website matched what I experienced at the shop.

The owner did my nails, because the salon was just busy enough that all technicians were with clientele – sans the host, who walked around to every station talking to the customers and making sure the technicians had everything they needed. (I love that model.)

Because I’m also a business owner, I took the opportunity to talk to the owner about her business. Her goal? To create a customized relaxing experience for every patron that walks through the door. We discussed the building’s character, the code restrictions, how she chooses to represent her brand and where she wants to be in 2 to 5 years.

Requirements Building

During our conversation, the owner also asked me questions – mostly about my business – but some just about my preferences. She complimented my toenails (I don’t think anyone has ever complimented my toenails.) and asked my how often I get my nails done. When I answered truthfully that I only indulge on special occasions or when I need a quick “me moment,” she recommended gels.

The experience for me suddenly came to a halt. I felt I’d been lured in with the promise of something new or different, only to find that the owner was trying to up-sell me on something I had no desire to purchase. I was here to relax, after all, not be pulled into some every two-week nail scam.

I laughed nervously, replying, “I’ve tried gels. I am too low maintenance for that.”

To which she said, “They last longer than a regular mani-pedi, and look amazing. You just have to come in every couple of weeks and get them soaked off.”

Like I have time for that.

But surprisingly – and to my delight – she picked up on my queues and recovered. “Gels aren’t for everyone,” she said, “especially if you don’t have time.” She promptly changed the subject.

Trust Building

To build a successful business, sustain the salon long-term and scale according to the owner’s goals, the salon needs dependable repeat business. Gels are one way to get repeat business because they require quite a bit of maintenance. Some folks are into that. They choose to spend their exposable income on these small indulgences, they have the time to invest every couple of weeks, and during their regular visits, they may also take advantage of the spa services that are offered.

Me? I’m not one of those people. I let my nails go until they are breaking and tearing – and sometimes even beyond that. When I do go, it’s because I have an upcoming event, someone bought me a gift certificate, or I have a few extra hours on my hands. I am not my own priority.

And the owner recognized that. Because she took the time to get to know me, and picked up on my emotional signals, she gained my trust. It’s likely that I’ll return. While I may only get my nails done four times a year, I will pass referrals on to other friends who will actually purchase the gels. Through one little experience, the business owner gains many clients. Because she recognizes that one size does not fit all.

A Co-Writing Case Study

The Challenge

Recently, a client from the government sector came to me with a content problem. He had produced content for a specific target audience that was received with significant criticism. The message itself, while strong, was bogged down in poor content design.

While a long-standing government career had made him a subject matter expert, he had taken the tabula rasa approach to writing – start with a blank page and just let it flow. Time was definitely the constraint in this case, but the long-term effects of quickly written content could have been damaging to his brand credibility.

Our Co-Writing Approach

What I lacked in the subject matter, I made up for in content experience. This was to our benefit, as what we had together was the perfect co-writing package:

  • An underlying theme, and overall purpose and a clearly defined target audience.
  • Raw content in the form of a first draft that the client had compiled.
  • Brand and editorial style guidelines, including tone of voice.
  • An abbreviated production time.

The process itself was fairly quick. We each had our focus. I conducted a thorough analysis, then tossed the piece back to my client for another round. He, in turn, made sure my recommendations aligned with the subject matter and filled in the blanks as needed. We looked at all the basic elements of good writing.


I read through the raw content from a layperson perspective and highlighted areas that needed more context for comprehension. In other words, from a reader’s perspective, am I understanding what it is you’re trying to say?  In some cases, I did the research myself and built out the content. In other cases, I asked leading questions so my client could quickly provide more information during his writing round. He, in turn, provided the needed context.


I evaluated for transactional value. I asked myself, “Am I taking the action you want me to take as a result of engaging with this content?” In this case, the content contained all conversion elements, but needed better construction overall.

Organizational Structure

Organized and logical thinking is a reflection of quality and credibility. Shifting the framework of the piece around to accommodate logical thinking allowed for seamless flow of information based on the way people think. I made sweeping changes, deletions and re-organized in the Word editing tool. He accepted my edits then validated them to be sure important elements weren’t stripped during the overhaul.

Sentence Construction and Grammar

Even the best writers worry about grammar last. A sentence can be written in many different ways – and we tried them all. Variation in the structure of sentences within the same paragraph is important as well, as writing is like poetry – there must be a rhythm to it in order to keep the reader engaged.

Copyediting and Proofreading

Last – but certainly not least – was the polish. We both conducted a number of read-throughs to be sure the writing was tight, there were no typos (even Word’s Spelling and Grammar tool doesn’t catch everything), and title case, em-dashes and proper nouns capitalization applied.

The Result

Together, it took us less than 24 hours to reproduce the piece. And it was well-received. In fact, it was so well received that we’ve decided to take a co-writing approach for all related content in the series.

While co-writing may not be possible in every case, a solid editorial review of all content produced is a must – even if you review the content yourself. It’s just good writing practice. And a little extra upfront work is a small investment for the long-term return you’ll receive.

Written by Kris Martin