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You’re likely already familiar with the power of first impressions. Maybe you’ve utilized it as a tool while professionally networking. Or maybe you’ve been the victim of a bad first impression experience.
Whatever the case, the psychological principle is pretty straightforward. The first few minutes a person spends with you — and sometimes, the first few seconds — have the power to dictate their ideas about you for months to come, if not indefinitely.
For example, let’s say you walk into a room confidently, with your best-fitted suit and a smile on your face. A person seeing you for the first time may remember you as being confident, competent and strong for the foreseeable future, even if you stumble over your words or make critical mistakes in your next interactions.
By contrast, if you walk into the same room looking unkempt, stumbling over your feet, and avoiding eye contract, you may have a reputation as being clumsy or unconfident, even if you nail your next several meetings.
Leveraging the power of first impressions in your business can make you a more successful entrepreneur and ensure your clients and customers will think the best of your business for as long as possible. So how can use this to your advantage?
Many people discover your brand for the first time when they initially visit your website. Accordingly, you’ll have to make a good first impression with your website if you want them to start on good terms with your brand. Consider these aspects of your website:
- Loading times and functionality. If your website takes 10 seconds to load, it’s going to make people skeptical of your ability to deliver quality. You need to ensure your content gets on screen as quickly as possible to make a good first impression with visitors. This is also important for Search Engine Optimization.
- Design. Next, you need to think about design. What’s the first thing a person sees when visiting your site for the first time? Is there something that makes it clear what your website is about? Are there pleasantly contrasting colors and plenty of white space? Do they see a smiling face to make them feel more comfortable? Your visitor may never scroll down unless that first sight is a pleasant one.
- Copy. You can also set an initial tone with your written copy. What do you have to say to your visitors? Are you immediately trying to sell them, or are you welcoming them in with an enticing and interesting message?
Your welcome email
Sometimes, you’ll get to make a first impression with an introductory email. This is especially common if you get regular email list subscribers or if you generate leads with a prospecting tool. Here, the subject line is everything. If your subject line isn’t appealing, your customers won’t even bother opening the message. A good subject line is original, short, compelling and possibly even a bit mysterious — it’s often good to lure people in with a tease or a hint.
Your social media profile
What about people discovering your brand for the first time on social media? Your profile photo, a paragraph-long description of your company and a pinned piece of content are usually the only tools you have to make a good impression. Make sure they reflect your values.
The first purchase
If a customer struggles with their first purchase, they’ll never come back to you for a second. Make sure it’s easy to buy your products or sign up for your services.
In line with this, you need to make sure your product is easy to use. Whether it’s a physical tool, a piece of software, or something in between, your product needs to be designed as intuitively as possible so there’s no chance of a negative first impression.
Meeting in person
Of course, we also have to talk about in-person meetings. If you’re meeting a client, customer, investor or potential partner for the first time, spend plenty of time preparing for the meeting. Make sure you’re well-dressed and well-groomed. Hold yourself confidently, with correct upright posture. Always start with a smile and a friendly greeting. These steps may seem simple, but they can totally make or break your first impression.
In many of these scenarios you’ll have access to experimentation and evaluation, so don’t just assume your impressions are working. Test them with a live audience and see what they have to say about it. The more you test and the more you learn about your audience, the better you’ll get at forming ideal first impressions.