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Table of Contents

Lead Story

New payment player flexes muscle


Industry Update

Interchange dodges a bullet

Two more terminal types under PCI SSC umbrella

Small-business confidence rising

Contactless faring well

Terrorism funded with stolen data

Flying for wishes, Isaacman sets record

Visa Inc. interchange rates as of April 2009


Data security dominates ETA Expo

Selling Prepaid

Prepaid in brief

The Fair Gift Card Act of 2009:
Good intentions, disastrous results

Brad Fauss
Springbok Services Inc.

The ISO challenge: Selling prepaid

Drilling down on the prepaid-unbanked relationship


Protect merchants with the basics

Biff Matthews
CardWare International

The drive toward integrated solutions

Robbie Lopez

Extending security beyond assessments

Michael Petitti


Street SmartsSM:
What does your billboard say?

Jon Perry and Vanessa Lang

What it takes to thrive in business

Curt Hensley
CSH Consulting

PCI: Taking the proper path

Tim Cranny
Panoptic Security Inc.

Facing the elephants

Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

Company Profile

Merchant Cash and Capital

New Products

Private pathway for POS data

Company: Apriva

Boundless processing


Revenue streams through referrals

AdvanceMe Inc.


Capitalizing on distractions


2009 Calendar of events



Resource Guide


A Bigger Thing

The Green Sheet Online Edition

May 11, 2009  •  Issue 09:05:01

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Street SmartsSM

What does your billboard say?

By Jon Perry and Vanessa Lang

Imagine, if you would, that you're at a networking event. You are in a large, rectangular room with tables on one side, windows on the other. Looking out the windows you see cars in the parking lot and people entering the building. One man in the crowd is wearing a scruffy T-shirt and jeans. You gauge him to be in his early to mid twenties.

Later, you and two other people are standing together. You introduce yourself and provide your 60-second elevator speech about what you do. The young man you saw earlier comes over to your group.

You ask him what he does. He says that he helps people become millionaires and adds he is a financial planner who has taken countless portfolios and turned them into valuable retirement funds. He asks if you're interested in learning more.

Then, he glances at his watch and says, "Please excuse me, but I'm late for a meeting." He leaves, and you see him moments later through the window as he gets into a 1972 Ford Pinto.

Words don't say all

This man's words did not jibe with the initial impression you'd gotten. The reasons have to do with something called "message framing." What that means is we send out a very distinct message before even opening our mouths. Sometimes verbal messages aren't properly heard because of the framing that precedes them, which can create a fixed impression.

Erving Goffman was the first to develop a specific theory about self-presentation in 1959, which laid the foundation for what is known as "impression management."

Goffman stated that people must adapt their behavior and appearance to "give" and "give off" the correct impression to a particular audience. He noted that individuals participate in social interactions through performing a "line" or "a pattern of verbal and nonverbal acts" by which they express their views of situations and evaluate participants, including themselves.

To paraphrase Goffman further, we are all actors on a stage. To connect with our audience, we must mirror them in appearance and behavior. As part of impression management, we are managing the impression we give others, molding it for suitability. We are creating our personal billboard for everyone to see.

Watch what you convey

Like it or not, each of us is a walking billboard, constantly projecting a message in three ways: through our appearance, our actions and what we say. Let's briefly examine the three.

We all make mistakes. On GS Online's MLS Forum, Beanstream described a time he was asked to speak at an early morning event. He got up before daybreak and got dressed in the dark so he wouldn't wake his wife. As it turned out, he mixed the jacket from one suit with pants from another. Not only were the colors mismatched, but the clothes had different patterns.

Beanstream said, "I didn't notice it until I got up to the podium to speak, or else I would have just ditched the jacket. It probably wasn't noticed by a lot of people, but I spent more time focused on my attire and trying to hide behind the podium than I did my speech."

It's a great example of how not mirroring other people can make you feel out of place - in this case, Beanstream was more focused on his clothes than the event he attended. (Perhaps a good first step in proper mirroring is looking at yourself in the mirror.)

Everything counts

Within an organization, nothing is too small to understand and refine. Paying attention to how the office phone is answered, the way a presentation is delivered and what a person wears on a sales call are examples of providing consistency in service and message.

Like the Ritz-Carlton, we want to deliver seamless service to our customers. We also want to build a merchant services company whose top-notch quality and customer service is rooted in strong impression management and message framing. Who knows, maybe we'll be the first merchant services company to win a Malcolm Baldrige award. That would make a great billboard.

Jon Perry and Vanessa Lang are the owners of, an ISO based in Ft. Worth, Texas, that was named Small Business of the Year by the local newspaper, The Star Telegram. For more information, tweet them at, comment on their blog at or visit their profile at or Alternatively, you can contact Jon and Vanessa by phone at 817-857-3557 or by e-mail at or

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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