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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

First Impressions: More than just Human Interactions

We have all heard this warning: "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression."  In business, a positive first impression is crucial for forging sustainable, long-term partnerships with buyers to keep it thriving. Businesses spend a great deal of time and resources on keeping their existing clients. Consistently, making a strong first impression is essential for gaining new customers and clients.

Photo from renjith krishnan

There are many aspects to marketing, but one of the most important is in being able to quickly capture the attention of potential customers and clients. The field of marketing relies on good first impressions. 

It is one thing to grab the attention of a potential client or customer and another completely to grab their attention for all the wrong reasons. The art of attention seeking, without being overly persistent or irritating, is an important art to learn- really capturing the interest of the consumer.

It is almost important that, after grabbing the attention of your audience, you don’t lose sight of what the product or service that you’re offering really is. This has been a common problem for marketers, and has given rise to the common customer complaint that while they were entertained by an advertisement or a gimmick they were left without a real understanding of what the advertisement was trying to sell.

Keep in mind your marketing first impressions:
  • Brand – Do your key messages convey how your product/service will help your buyers (not just support your firm)?
  • E-mail Marketing – Many firms deal with lackluster open rates of e-mail communications.  Are you subject lines engaging to your target?  The right message at the right time does little to benefit the brand if it is never opened.
  • Website – Is your website easily navigated from a customer’s/buyers point of view? Is it easy for people to contact you if they have questions? Do you have a mobile viewable website for easy of today's technology savvy buyers?  Should you invest in a mobile application to ease the buying process?  What web/technology channels are important to your targets?
  • Social Media - Do you need to utilize social media?  If so, are you posting consistenty?  Are your messages important to your targets?  Do your messages engage your targets or get them interested in a product/service?  As marketers, we need to determine what our strategy is for using social media and ensure that our first impressions are not hurting our overall brand and positioning.
  • Collateral – Firms spent time and money writing, designing, and printing various pieces of collateral to communicate your firms products/services.  Does your collateral grab your viewers’ attention and encourages them to read the information you've worked so hard to put together? Or keep your business card in their files, bookmark your website, consider your proposal, or whatever the goal for the marketing piece may be? Are your "sales" material focused on benefits and ways your product/services help your potential buyers?
  • Phone messages/Receptionist Greetings – Part of making first impressions include voice messages of the firm and how the receptionist answers the phone.  Are these consistent and professional?
  • Store Layout/Displays – Is the design of your store or your display logically attuned to your buyers (not just appeasing to your design preferences)?  For displays, does it grab the attention of your buyer?
  • Product Packaging/Signage –  This is critical for B2C.  Enough said. For B2B, are you bundling services to make the buying process easier for your buyers?
First impressions are important for your employees and your marketing efforts.  Here’s to making positive first impressions with your marketing efforts. 

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