Best First Impressions and Branding

That’s what we’re all told right? But what if the Cover is all we are given to base our decisions on?

For most small businesses, how clients view us is often determined by outward appearances and first impressions, things that jump out at them at first glance or first encounter.

Traditionally, this would be ultimate personal grooming, flashy suits, shiny heels and pleated skirts with a dash of red lippy combined with impeccable manners, enunciation and polite conversation.  It was mortifying to have to go to that afternoon appointment with gravy on your tie or a ladder in your pantyhose.

In business today, if you’re not online, you’re not on the bandwagon.  And if you don’t represent yourself and your brand effectively online, you’re likely to be missing out on a good chunk of business.

When doing business online, people can’t see your flashy suit and shiny heels, neither can they see your slippers, bathrobe and bed hair for that matter.  Unless you’re doing a webinar – then at least you put on a nice top and comb your hair – and maybe a bit of lippy (they still can’t see your slippers).

Branding is all about your image and how people see and experience you and the products and services you provide.

First impressions and lasting impressions are what attract new clients, maintain repeat clients and encourage word of mouth referrals to your business.  

Bad impressions are what keeps clients away.

In this online world, where a Website conceptually replaces a bricks and mortar office, people, I’ve found quite recently, forget that they also need to convert those real live manners, impeccable enunciation and polite conversations into an online equivalent – the substitute being emails, online messaging, websites, social media posts and blogs.

First impressions are huge in the online community.  Spelling and grammar, punctuation, tone and aesthetics all conceptually describe you as a business owner and represent you as an individual – they represent you as a person, your personal conduct, education and beliefs.

What do we all do now?  When we are interested in a product or service?  We do some online stalking (aka research)!.  We’ll hop on google, check out social media platforms and drill down into websites, seeking to learn more about the business, their values, beliefs and whether we feel assured of being looked after.

Do we want to deal with a business that looks as though the owner’s grandson has drafted their social media posts? No.  Do we want to deal with that business who has a picture of themselves wearing a flashing party hat on New Years Eve? Not likely.  Unless we have previously had positive engagement with those businesses (or they’re selling party hats) we wouldn’t feel confident that they’re professional enough to look after us to our satisfaction – on First Impression.

If literacy is not your strong point – get a proofreader to go over your content.

The same concept goes for cold calling, the equivalent of a salesman barging into your office or banging on your front door.  Mailing lists – being unknowingly and unwillingly added to them for the sake of being another email address.  They’re annoying and a rude surprise in your inbox (and it’s actually not allowed in Australia – adding someone to a mailing list without their Consent)

If you’re going to gather details for a mailing list, do your homework and ensure you’re hitting your target market, not spamming the globe.  There is nothing worse than receiving a newsletter from a business that provides the same services as you do – while in these instances we would of course find it rather amusing (a door to door salesman wouldn’t knock on a competitors door would he?)

The front door to your online business is your website,  – your Homepage is your Reception area, full of information on your business, tidbits of information about your products and services and feedback and testimonials from existing clients.  It should be warm, inviting and have characteristics that resonate with your Business and Brand.

Your About Us page is basically your tearoom; complete with coffee and tim tams.  This is where people get to know you a little and begin to form the basis of a relationship with you, building trust and rapport before they decide to purchase or do business with you.

Your newsletters are conversations full of information that is relevant to your target audience, whom you have carefully curated, and should instil confidence and trust in your brand, as you’re providing them with useful content they can use and relate to.

Make sure that all of you online content is clean, properly written and easy to read – the same goes for your newsletters and blog posts.

Remember! Bad first impressions are what keep Clients away!

(while we are primarily a BAS & Bookkeeping Agency, and this post a little off topic, we also support our clients in ensuring they’re projecting a clear image to their target market and wished to share these tips with our wider audience)