Business attire in digital – What should you wear?

So, I am often asked why  I never wear a shirt and tie for work? After all I do run the front end of Marketing Signals and I am one of the faces of the company.

We recently published a content piece for one of our clients based around a survey they conducted with over 1000 business people – The graphic is embedded at the bottom of this post.

Whilst I agree with the majority of the stats – including not to wear flip flops to the first meeting – I do feel that the attire you wear to the office is based on your job and the industry you work in.

Different dress for different industries

I have a friend who works in the legal profession at a senior level in a top 5 law firm – would he go to work in jeans and a polo shirt? Never, but that is the culture that exists within their industry and who are we to try and change it – Maybe it makes them feel more high powered and important.

As digitally based creatives, we do tend to run by our own rules. At least 50% of our client base has never had a face to face meeting with us – We attract clients from all over the world so a lot of the time meet-ups just don’t happen, due to geographical reasons rather than choosing not to speak to them.

Where we do meet clients face to face, I have always found that the smart casual look is expected – We are Internetters and it is kind of expected that we will not be wearing a full suit.

Sales person – or product manager?

For me, I am invited into businesses to offer consultative services based around digital marketing. I always feel that if I arrived wearing a full suit and shoes, I would be seen as the sales person, whereas the reality is that I am a technically minded educator who will make the client aware of what we can do and what our product offering is; If they like it, they buy it.

According to the survey, 66% believe senior managers should be dressed smarter than the staff – That may be the case in a traditional role where the boss has a smarter suit but I do not feel that applies for the digital marketing world I live in. I manage via inspiration rather than with an iron rod and we have a very flat hierarchy here at Marketing Signals. We are the delivery people rather than the sales people.

At the end of the day, dress to feel comfortable – I know the staff here would feel less relaxed and creative if we all wearing waistcoats, neck ties and shiny shoes!

If you are going to visit a prospective client and you feel they will be wearing smart business attire – wear a shirt – but remember – they are hiring you for your digital marketing skills, not for how well you can starch a collar!

Infographic for your viewing pleasure

What to Wear to a Business Meeting
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Gareth Hoyle

Gareth Hoyle

Let’s kick this section off with a sound-bite: I graduated in 2006, finishing top of my year in e-Business. As good as that sounds, book smarts doesn’t always translate into business acumen - what people really want to know is how I went from ‘fresh faced uni graduate’ to establishing my own highly successful international digital marketing agency. It wasn’t easy.

Here’s my advice. The formula to success comes down to one word. Leadership. The difference between book smarts and leadership is that even the strongest university degree in the world will only teach you the way, but a leader is able to take that knowledge and combine it with instinct and honesty to show the way. I may not always lead my staff and clients in the direction they want, but I always take them where they need to be.

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