You Probably Aren’t As Impressive as You Think You Are: How You’re Ruining First Impressions.
Have you ever met someone and instantly decided that you didn’t like them? Sure, it sounds like a rash judgment to make, but it happens.
Oh, wipe that shocked look off of your face. Actual studies and polls have shown that this is true. We usually make a snap decision about people before we even speak to them. This, of course, is just based on stereotypes and the way our brain behaves.
Actually, we usually react one of three ways when we meet someone new.
1 – I don’t like you. There’s no real reason why we don’t immediately like this person. Maybe it’s the way they are dressed or a mannerism such as smoking or making a clicking noise with their tongue against their teeth (hey, people have some weird pet peeves!). But for some reason you just don’t like them.
2 – I’m charmed by you. This is the flip-side of the above. Sometimes you meet someone new and are immediately impressed with them in ways you can’t quite understand. It doesn’t equate to being attracted to them, but can be traced back to something like their great attitude, their stature, the way they carry themselves and so on. In cases like this, you leave that meeting with a lasting impression of that person in your mind.
3 – Meh. Whatever. These are the people you meet that you don’t even remember a few hours later. They didn’t rub you the wrong way, nor did they impress you. They were just there and happened to cross your path.
Obviously, you want to be more like Number Two whenever you can. But how can you mold yourself to become the type of person—or, in this case, the type of brand or company—that others can’t wait to do business with?
Well, you should always start by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Ask yourself what it would take for you to be knocked over by someone you have never done business with before. In doing this, think about those snap judgments we talked about earlier. People will often make a decision about a person very quickly—within three seconds comes studies suggest.
So a few questions you need to ask you are “why?” and, more importantly,” what can I do to make sure those three seconds really lures them in?”
It’s All In Your Head
No, really, it is. All of these snap judgments can be blamed on the way your brain is programmed. This is good, though. It means that there are ways to manipulate the way your audience thinks. Not in a creepy X-Files sort of way but in a clever marketing sort of way.
Here’s an example. Call to mind the last person you met for the first time ever. Don’t worry about the cabbie that took you to work or the creepy whino on the bus. Think about the last person you were introduced to for the first time or maybe someone you happened to come across at a seminar or workshop.
What was it about them that made you start judging them? Again, this is an area where we need to investigate some of our dirty laundry. And don’t bother fibbing either because there are studies that are going to call you out on this, too.
Polls show that most people make those rash first-three-second stereotypical judgments based on items such as, but not limited to, the following:
- The way they are dressed
- Their weight/appearance
- Posture/the way they carry themselves
- Volume of their voice and any noticeable accents
The takeaway here is to make sure you are always presenting yourself at your best. This is, of course, something you should do at all times anyway. It is crucial to make a good first impression to those that may be unfamiliar with your brand.
And here’s where it gets tricky. In the world of marketing, this applies to your online presence as well as your physical presence.
So where is the line drawn and how can you make a great first impression in what is almost literally two separate worlds?
The First Impression Online
- Make sure your website is well designed and polished. Be certain that all of your pertinent information is on there and that your contact information is easy to find. Don’t overcomplicate your site for the sake of trying to look fancy. Minimalism and the bare bones can sometimes be more effective than an all-our website blitz.
- Stay active on social media. Don’t just get accounts and use them rarely. Be consistent and relevant to your audience.
- Avoid controversial topics on your social profiles, networks, blogs, forums and anywhere else you might establish your online presence. Sure, saying something “edgy” might get you some media attention but more often than not, it is the wrong kind of attention.
The First Impression In the Real World
- Always try to dress nice if you can manage it. In an instance where you’re not sure about dress codes, dress nice anyway. It never hurts. Being the best-dressed person in the room has never come to a negative outcome.
- Speak slowly and at a medium volume. And when you speak, give your listener some distance. There really is such a thing as personal space and when you encroach on the personal space of others, they can get very uncomfortable. Avoid this at all costs.
- Try to hold eye contact; this is especially important when you are the listener in a conversation. Let people know that you really are listening. Of course, play by your instincts. There is a difference between socially acceptable eye contact and crazy-eyed psychopath eye contact.
So yes, that old adage on the importance of first impressions is dead on. Nowadays, it’s almost more important to make sure your online first impression is stellar before concerning yourself with your physical first impression.
Just remember to always place yourself in the shoes of your audience. If you aren’t blown away by what you’re putting out there, chances are that potential customers aren’t going to be impressed either.