Making a good first impression is vital in business. If you fail, that first impression might well turn into the last impression. So be careful.
When a prospect calls you, will they get a good first impression?
Hopefully, if you’re available to answer the phone, the answer will be yes. You’ve taken a second to put a smile on your face and in your voice before you answer. Then you’ve answered their questions politely and cheerfully.
Unless, of course, it’s one of those guys who calls every couple of weeks to say he’s from Microsoft and he’s “the one who fixed your computer the last time.” I’ve started asking each of them if it makes him feel bad to call up and lie to people. You don’t need to make a good first impression on telephone phishermen.
What if you’re upset when that call comes – and definitely not at your best?
Let your cheerful answering machine answer it. Answering when you’re upset, rushed, angry, or distracted by some immediate problem will show up in your voice. It will make a poor impression. So get yourself together, then return the call as soon as you’re ready to do it well.
What if you’re already with a client or otherwise not available to take the call immediately?
Does your message make a good first impression?
Not long ago I returned a call from a would-be client and got his answering machine in return. The voice told me that he would return my call at HIS earliest convenience.
Maybe what he meant was “As soon as I can,” or perhaps “At my earliest opportunity.” But that’s not what he said. My mind interpreted his words as “If I feel like it, when I get around to it, and if I have nothing better to do.”
It just goes to show that we need to think about the words we say – and what they might mean to the people hearing them.
My impression after this message was that this man would be rude, arrogant, and demanding. He might also decide that it wasn’t “convenient” for him to review his copy when I sent it, or to pay my invoice on time. In short, those few words made me decide that I didn’t want to do business with him.
Another recent message gave me a very good first impression.
When I called in response to a recent email, I got a message thanking me for my call and telling me that the gentleman would call back as soon as possible. He then took it a step farther and said that would generally be within 30 to 90 minutes.
Had I been a potential real estate client, that message might have kept me from trying the next number on my list. Of course, if he didn’t follow through, that would have been a different story. (He did.) Gaining trust is a big factor in gaining new clients.
Do your written words make a good first impression?
As we all know, content marketing is important today. That means we’re all struggling to come up with headlines / subject lines that will cause prospects to stop and read.
We collect all sorts of advice about how to do that. For instance: use numbers, as in 7 ways to…; use trigger words like free, new, revolutionary, exciting, etc.; start with “How to…”; and ask a question with the implication that the answer lies within.
Those are all good ideas, but ONLY if you’re telling the truth. If you’re only writing “click bait” they’re not.
Some time ago I came across an article entitled “11 WAYS YOU’RE GIVING MONEY AWAY WHEN YOU BUY YOU HOUSE.”
Excusing the silly typo – “you buy you house,” I clicked. I thought I might learn something that I could pass along to you via this newsletter. Unfortunately, none of the eleven ways told how home buyers were giving money away. In fact, the article didn’t say much of anything.
Fake click bait titles do not make a good first impression.
In fact, if you’ve fallen for this kind of title more than once from the same writer, you just might disregard everything else they write. I get a lot of “news” email, and I have unsubscribed from a few sources because nearly all of their titles are nothing but click bait.
I’m still glancing at the one that’s real estate related, because every once in a while the headlines deliver, but…
Be careful. Do use those good ideas for creating titles/subject lines, but be truthful. If you say you’re offering something free, easy, proven, new, exciting, secret, or revolutionary – make sure your content delivers on that promise.
You may need to go back and change the title.
Perhaps this hasn’t happened to you, but it has happened to me, so I’ll offer the warning. Every now and then I’ll have an idea for an article and start to write, only to find that it morphs into something entirely different. When I’m finished I have to go back and change the title.
People who write novels tell me that sometimes their characters evolve and drive the story line. They can’t wait to finish writing the book in order to find out how it is going to end. That’s a bit hard to imagine, but since I experience something similar with articles, I won’t argue with them.
If you want to make a good first impression, make sure your title matches your content.
And then there are the words you choose.
If you’ve studied copywriting and marketing at all, you know that it’s best to keep your vocabulary simple. Write to a 7th grade reading level, at most. Don’t use $40 words when a $4 word will do.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who are writing don’t seem to know that rule. In fact, some of them seem bent on showing off their vast vocabulary by using words that few people use in everyday language.
If you really want to use big words, make sure the meaning makes good sense in context.
Just the other day I read an article that kept referring to someone facing an “existential question.” I first assumed the writer knew what he or she meant, but then thought more about it and decided to find the actual definition of the word.
According to vocabulary.com, “If something is existential, it has to do with human existence. If you wrestle with big questions involving the meaning of life, you may be having an existential crisis.”
The question they referred to was a legal one, so I suppose the answer could have been life-altering, but using the word in this context was quite a stretch. Perhaps it was just there to make the New York Times writer look sophisticated?
The bottom line if you want the words you write to make a good first impression…
- Always match the headline to the content and deliver what the headline promised.
- Don’t try to impress with your vocabulary. And if you really insist on using $40 words, be sure that there can be no question about their meaning – and that the meaning fits the context.
- Be SURE of your words – use the dictionary!
We once had a neighbor who was very proud of his vocabulary. He would use a big word, then spell it, then recite the definition. We laughed about his superior attitude, but I don’t think any of our prospective clients would think it funny if we did what my neighbor did.
Now it’s your turn.
Please add your thoughts, comments, and ideas in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!
smiling on the phone Image courtesy of podpad at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
data integrity, dictionary key, and signpost images courtesy of stuart miles @ freedigitalphotos.net