As much as I like to think I’m immune from it, first impressions still count in the real world – and not just in the virtual world!
Certainly, the importance of a virtual “front door” is something I tell our clients about every day.
“Your website is like your front door” is a common enough phrase for me to lay upon the unsuspecting website owner who has forgotten to update their copyright date or change the news in the sidebar for a few months/years. ”If your front door looked this way,” my narrative goes, “you’d either fix it or accept the fact that you didn’t care to invest in one of your most important and largest assets.” Ouch! A bit harsh, but usually it does the trick – it shows a business owner just how many eyeballs are looking at their website each day, even if they themselves have managed to avoid it for a few months (or even longer).
A Recent Event
While I live a lot of my life in the “online” world, I’m a sucker for good old person to person interaction. So, when Rick Simmons (my partner and the leader of our sales efforts) requested that Paul Fleming and I join him at a meeting to get to know a prospect, I recognized the value of the effort. Meet the partners, the people who would be leading efforts for the project, and add a layer of personal/human interaction on top of an otherwise technical project.
However, it wasn’t my best morning. The meeting was at 9am, and the drive could take anywhere from 25 minutes to over an hour. When Paul picked me up at 8am, it was nearly 95 degrees and I had just managed to tear myself away from a melting down 2 year old, quickly shower and throw on a Dinkum-branded shirt before heading out the door (note: there was still time, of course, for two coffees to go at Ultimo).
When we got to our meeting location 5 minutes after 9am (late!), I realize with the help of Rick that my Dinkum shirt had a nice fat stain on it. Lovely. Rick, whose time in the Air Force informs a rather snappy couture, was NOT happy. My attempts to joke it away didn’t help. While the meeting went fine, I was self-conscious about the stain on my shirt when I should have been 100% focused on the conversation at hand.
Seeing as how he went to the trouble of arranging an important meeting and inviting his two partners out from their computer-ensconced command rooms, I should have recognized that what was at issue was all about first impressions. Don’t get me wrong – a good first impression can’t save you from bad things down the road – on the web, an updated copyright doesn’t overcome bad content, broken links, poor design, or other shortcomings. However, it does enable you to keep the conversation focused on what is the top priority. In both sales and websites, the goal is simple: to provide the necessary information to the prospect and compel them to take a desired action. Putting up roadblocks to this process doesn’t help.
In this case, a few minutes focusing on my appearance and accessories might not have changed the outcome of the meeting, but it certainly would have given me the confidence that I was actively removing roadblocks from the action that I desired our prospect to take – and that’s just plain common sense!