How to make a great first impression

Why do some businesses look good online and some awful? Or, to put it another way, how do you get your business to be one of the attractive ones?

One way to look at this is to imagine for a moment that your business is a person looking for Mr or Ms Right online. If your website or facbook page was a person, would anyone risk that first date with you? It is a well-known adage that you have 7 seconds to make an impact. Is this what your landing pages do? The main thing to remember is that you have to make an immediate positive impact. So let's consider how you might do that. You will find it is surprising how often the simple way of addressing things is often the right one.

  • Choosing your words carefully

    Plan what you want to say carefully. Make sure it is easy to read and to understand. If it is a video or slide presentation, the same thing applies. Does what you have to say make simple sense? If not, go back through your copy and keep editing until it does.

    While you are at it, make sure you know who the person is you are addressing. Successful businesses and brands know their audience and what they like. It is so much easier to say the right thing when you know what your audience expects.

  • Converting positive to negative

    Examples of this at a corporate level are positive statements about your business, accomplishments and current mission. If it is a product or service you are talking about, make sure it is presented in a way that clearly sets out how it will benefit the user. Check your copy for negatives.

    While you are doing this, however, make sure you don't overdo it. You can be positive without making statements that you can never fulfil.

  • Branding problems

    People sometimes misunderstand branding. It is not just a logo: it is about the consistent presentation of your message. Again, ask yourself if the message put out by everyone in your business is consistent? Does your social media expert go their own way or are they singing from the same book as everyone else? If you have doubts, pull together the people responsible for disseminating the brand and make sure they all understand what it is you are trying to get across.

  • Benefits not just features

    If you don't know the difference, features are surface statements about your product, such as what it can do, its dimensions and specs and so on. Benefits show what the same product or service can actually do for the reader. To identify a benefit, use the "which means that" method. So, while it might seem a benefit, for example to tell someone that 4G is a faster connection that 3G, adding the "which means that" clause allows you to add, which means you can access web data more quickly (the advantage), which means you can get directions more quickly if you are lost (a benefit).

    The important element is the emotional buy in a benefit gives that a feature does not.

  • Explanations that answer your customers' questions

    A great way to approach a product description is to ask questions about it - what it does, how it looks, how you might use it and so on... Then in your description of the product, make sure you provide the answers you are most likely to get.

  • Offer real value

    Real value can be a tricky thing to pin down. All too often you will see 20%, or 50% off as a leading statement. If you go looking for a sofa, you will often find businesses that offer permanent sales. Now, I don't know about you, but if someone tells me something is 70% off, I move on, thinking it can't have been worth its original price to begin with.

    The key is research. What do your customers value in the products you offer? If you can key into these elements of "real value", you are som much more likely to achieve success.

  • Calls to Action

    In old-fashioned sales parlance, this is know as "asking for the order". Do your site visitors know what to do next after they have read all about the wonderful things you have to offer.

    Create clear easy to understand calls to action that move them on to the next stage of becoming a "buyer" of your product or service and not just an interested viewer.

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