Orangeville, ON (My Corner Office) Opening a new business in the real world or online requires thinking beyond the money you will make. Most small business owners are clear on their ultimate goal. Yet often many fail to spend time planning their marketing image. To succeed, first impressions are critical.

When a new prospect finds your web site, you have 5 seconds to convince them to stay.

The rule applies in the physical world, also. Your printed materials may wind up in the trash. A visitor to your business may browse and decide to not buy in those critical first few seconds.

Your image as a source for a product or service depends on making a positive first impression. Most people don’t realize the subconscious dynamics that occur during an introduction.

In a face to face meeting, your prospect will categorize you immediately by sex, age, and race. This may be hard to believe. Your combination of these 3 characteristics become fixed based on past encounters. Overcoming any negatives begins when you speak. A warm and friendly approach to offering the benefits of doing business will help you succeed.

In print, your business card, ad, or brochure tells a similar story. The message will still elicit a reaction, good or bad. How you present your company in print needs to get past the critical first impression. This is true for the home page of your website.

Customers have a need (problem), and you provide a product or service (solution). Matching these 2 for a successful sale is easier than most people realize. All forms of marketing should address the benefits (solution) and not the features.

Your marketing materials need to project a mental image in the viewer’s mind. Stimulate their imagination so they picture themselves enjoying the benefits of your offer.

Bonus Tip: What to Say When a Customer is Wrong
As a small business owner, you know your business and as an expert, reacting to an email or face-to-face comment that you know is wrong will work wonders if you answer with two magic words: “You’re right!”. This works for several reasons. First, your customer may expect an argument. They will only hear half of what you have to say if you reply saying they are wrong. They will be busy mentally sorting comebacks and supporting evidence. They may hear none of your expert advice.

Telling someone “You’re right” will have them on the edge of their chair waiting for your next comment. Shifting your argument to what you know to be the truth is easy. With a brief pause after your magic two words, continue with “and there are many people who feel the same way. From years of experience, I’ve found that in fact (insert the truth based on your expertise here).” You give them the chance to accept your slant on the subject without having their opinion challenged. It works. For those concerned about ethics, the phrase “You’re right!” is an acknowledgement that they have one view, and it is valid because that’s how they feel.

A professional image has a wide range of materials for making a good first impression. Consider the feelings of your prospect and how your product or service will benefit them. You’ll do well in converting first introductions into sales.