Chances are you have been told many times in your life it is important to make a good first impression. We have been told by our mothers to dress appropriately, brush our hair, smile, sit up straight, etc. to give that good impression. What truly is the importance of giving and leaving a good impression, especially a first impression?
In law, a first impression refers to a case that holds a completely original issue of law. Wikipedia explains, “Since the legal issue under consideration has never been decided by an appeals court and, therefore, there is no precedent for the court to follow, the court uses analogies from prior rulings by appeals courts and its own logic.”
When we look at a first impression like this for our business we have to realize that a person or company meeting us for the first time, or hearing about our product/service for the first time, may have no reference point to make a judgement on our value. They may actually incorrectly apply the biases or prejudices from other experiences to your business.
In psychology (as explained in Wikipedia), “a first impression is the event when one person first encounters another person and forms a mental image of that person.”
When we apply this to our business we recognize that how we are seen in our business and how our business is accepted can depend on how we were perceived by the other person forming that impression.
We have control over the image we put off and the information we share but not how it is perceived, so we must work hard to make sure the impression someone forms about us on our first meeting will help us easily make a second connection with these people, especially if they are a potential client. So let’s look at three things that can be affected by a great first impression.
Time and Money
No one wants to be judged based on someone else’s past poor experience. It is up to you to make a first impression that says, “I am likable and worth knowing”, so that people will more quickly recognize your brand and potentially purchase from you or refer your business.
If it typically takes 7 marketing touches to get your business brand remembered by your potential client then you don’t want to lengthen that by first having to undo the wrong information (if you even get the chance). In marketing, the shorter your sales cycle the less money and time it costs you and that is always a great thing in business. Starting with a great first impression will potentially save you a lot of time in your sales cycle.
I have found that, when speaking with someone for the first time, being very clear about the business benefits for the client and offering help instead of jumping to ‘sales mode’ creates a trusting first impression that gives people a feeling that you know what they need and you are willing to help. This is a much better first impression then coming across like a pushy sales person.
When creating marketing material for advertising many people you will reach may be getting their first impression of you through different media. Your message must have a consistent brand image (not just logo, but language, and feeling). The same rule as above applies. Show benefit and offer to help. You want people to become aware of you and your value to them as quickly as possible. They will ignore you if you have no brand or perceived value for them. They will take note of you when you are amazing and they will take note of you when you are incredibly irritating. It is just as detrimental on your business to be ignored as to have to undo a negative impression first. Always aim to be amazing.
It is known that it is easier to do business with people that know, like, and trust us. If we create a great first impression we can sometimes jump to a sale, particularly if the sale requires a lot less trust (e.g. purchasing a commodity like flowers or baked goods). If you are in an industry that requires a lot more trust before someone will purchase from you, like a financial planner, accountant, or general contractor, your potential clients will most likely come to you through a referral. A great first impression can help your potential clients get to the same level as if you had been referred to them. Be open and genuinely honest with them. Again, sharing your knowledge to help others in a way they can recognize you as having something they need will help you more quickly build trust.
Don’t wait to make the perfect first impression. You only get once chance to do this, so, consistently make an effort to always create a great first impression and you will spend less time and money generating positive awareness of you and your business.