Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Consider Your First Impression
Regardless of how I learned it, the saying has stuck with me throughout my life, never more so than during these days of business. It's hard to believe that your company, whether it's 2,000 people or just you, could be completely unknown to tons of people. Your company consumes more time than your family and friends. If you are passionate about your company, it encompasses a great deal of your thought capacity, your energy, and your passion. And yet...there are people who have no idea that your company exists.
Now that we have gone through the stages of grief, it is time to take a pragmatic approach to this sad truth. So, there are people who have never heard of you. That also means there are people who are going to, at some point, hear of you, see something from you, or interact with you for the first time. How can you make the most of that first chance at a first impression? If you think that integrating your marketing campaign has nothing to do with the answer to this question, let me try to change your mind.
The Family Reunion
Summer is ending, and as it does, many of you may be reflecting on family reunions you got to go to. Now, let's say that I have no idea who you are, but via a friend of a friend of a friend, I end up at this big family reunion. I meet 7 of your aunts, 8 of your uncles, your grandpa, and your little cousin. I don't get to meet you, however. Do you think that by meeting all of those very different people I'd have a pretty good fix on who you are and what you are all about?
If your marketing campaign is put together piece-meal, or if it is not backed by an extremely solid strategy that integrates everything together, people will learn about your company the way I would have learned about you through that hypothetical family reunion. They might kind of get an idea of what you do, but the messages might be a little blurred or contradictory, and there might not be anything that stands out enough to make that first impression really outstanding.
Thanks to Trust Agents (Brogan/Smith), the word "army" is becoming a common buzz word in Social Media. I like to expand the concept to include all of your marketing initiatives.
In Social Media, your army is your entire network. Your Facebook friends, your blog readers, your Twitter followers, your LinkedIn connections -- all of these people with whom you interact have been drafted. Some of these people may work themselves up the ranks to become one of your "brand evangelists," which would be like a general. The great thing about formulating this army is that even if you yourself are not in a specific location, your army knows you, they know your message, and they can represent you to people outside of your army (or network). This would be like going to a kind of freaky family reunion where everyone would say exactly what you want them to say about you, and it would all be for a purpose. Your purpose.
How can this concept of the army expand beyond the Social Media world? Your website helps to bridge the gap. It's your fortress, if you will. Anything you do, whether it's a print ad or a Facebook page, should drive traffic to your website, and everything should reiterate the key messages that you have breathed into your hub. From there, consider everything you do a solider, just like people can be soldiers online. Your ads, your email campaigns, your direct mail pieces, your booth graphics -- they should do exactly what your Social Media army does. They should represent you exactly the way you want to be represented. They should be able to stand in for you when you can't be there. They should be your handshake, your introduction. They should be your first impression.
I like you. Now what?
Considering what your first impression will be across all of your marketing channels is not the end of the story. All of your soldiers should allow people who are meeting you to get to know you better. In marketing terms, this means that a person new to your company who likes your first impression should find it easy to learn more about you. A prospect should find it easy to reach your sales force. A lead should be nurtured and get to know on a more personal level. Even though this extends beyond a consideration of the first impression, it does not extend beyond what you need to account for when planning your first impression. Why? Because just as you only get one chance to make a first impression, it only takes one mistake to ruin a good first impression.
Take, for example, the scenario I talked about a few months ago (I'm sure you remember but I'll remind you anyway). I received an email from a trusted source that promoted a white paper from a second source. Since the trusted source had made such a good impression on me, I opted to download the other source's white paper. I read it. I liked it. I promoted it via Twitter. The first impression had been very good. But then I started getting 1-2 emails every day from the second source, and the emails were very "sell-oriented" rather than educational. This left a very bad taste in my mouth. I felt that I had opted in to spam and that both sources had misled me to an extent. I have since not downloaded anything from either source. First impression was ruined.
The nurturing of a good first impression is a delicate balance that needs to be planned carefully. Your ultimate goal, of course, is to make a sale, and your prospects and customers should find that transparently obvious. Even so, you do not want to move too swiftly from an educational approach to a BUY NOW!!" approach. Not only can you ruin your good first impression, but you could also find that a potential soldier in your army has also been turned away.
In that old shampoo commercial, it seemed like part of making a good first impression was wearing a black shirt, preferably without snowy dandruff decorating each shoulder.
In marketing, appearance is important, but it isn't everything. Are you analyzing every step in your marketing campaign from the perspective of an existing customer as well as someone who might be seeing you for the first time? What do you need to change so that your marketing makes sense to your entire army and everyone they may encounter?
1st Image by Bo Hansen. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/filax
2nd Image by Billy Alexander. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ba1969
3rd Image by conna lee. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/connalee