First impressions count...and then count again

Posted on:09. 11. 2013

By Cliff Findlay

It has been proven that when someone speaks before a room of people, 75% of the interest they create depends on whether they look like they’re worth listening to – and that’s before they’ve uttered a word!

This is quite a well known fact and many business owners know it. Yet strangely they don’t seem to consider the full implications when it comes to their own brand and marketing. After all, a company stands before its market every day.

When a potential customer views your sales materials such as your website, brochure or even your company logo, they’ll often decide in a split second whether or not they wish to do business with you and start a relationship.

Just as with the speaker, if your business doesn’t look like it can deliver the required level of service, the sale becomes much harder.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink he describes a test where 20 people were shown a website for 2 milliseconds and asked how they felt about the company. A simple positive or negative test.

They were then shown the same sites for a couple of minutes and allowed to interact with them. The correlation between what people thought after two milliseconds and after a few minutes was surprisingly strong. They made their mind up within a moment and, when asked to verify their thoughts, didn’t want to be wrong and stuck to their initial decision.

In Harold Kelly’s implicit personality theory he calls the positive reaction The Halo Effect. It suggests that, if a potential customer’s initial visual impression (or gut reaction) is “yes” they will actually try to convince themselves that they are right and will even ignore evidence to the contrary. Subconsciously they’ll pick out all the positive elements and block out or override the negative ones. The same can be said for the negative reaction.

I speak to a lot of companies and often they say that their website has never won them business. They often feel that people don’t find them, or they haven’t a product or service that sells on the internet.

However what they fail to realise is the impact a good or bad website or piece of marketing can have on the success or failure of a sale. How it can be a barrier to purchase and turn someone off just as quickly as turn them on.

So what can you as a business owner do from here? What we typically do when we start to work for a client is to ask them take a totally honest and objective look at their own brand as well as their competitors’; their website, brochures, PDF downloads, PowerPoints, etc. We then ask them to pretend to be a client and make a decision as to who they would trust to work with

If the answer is one of their competitors, then that is the reason they probably aren’t winning business and there is obviously work to be done. If the answer is that they would choose themselves, then there is less work to be done on the overall brand itself but efforts should be focussed on changing or tightening up sales messages, or revising the company’s route to market. 

Maybe you could (or get your marketing director) to try this. You’ll be amazed at what you find.

Overview: A good first impression, quality design that speaks to your target market is vital if you want the possibility of winning business, communicating or building a relationship. Without it you don’t have any idea of the amount of business you may be losing. In fact, the sale may be gone without you ever knowing.

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