How to Make a Positive First Impression of Your Small Business

Most marketing experts agree that you have three to seven seconds to make a first impression of your business. What will those first few seconds say to your potential customers?

Simple preparations can go a very long way to making a positive first impression in your business. People who expect to do business with you want to be greeted in a way to lets them know that you will provide the goods or services they need. Also, they want to feel that they will have a pleasant experience in obtaining the goods or services from you.

The first impression people may have of your business is you sign or website. In a brick and mortar business, it will be your sign and store front. For an internet business, it will be your web site.

If your logo or graphics are confusing or misleading, you will be confusing customers and not making them feel confident to buy from you. For example, on my way back to the office from lunch, I noticed a sign for a Mexican restaurant with the head of a dear on the sign. I was left guessing what the deer head meant. Did they serve venison?

Your web site needs to quickly and clearly convey what your business is about. Fancy flash pages and other slow loading graphics turn away many potential clients with low bandwidth connections. How would you feel if you were required to watch a movie before you could open the door to a store?

Once inside a business, the first impression is usually the interaction with the business. In a physical business this will be the employees. Employees need to always greet customers with a smile and offer help. For a web site, the menus and headlines are the first connection with the customers. The headline must clearly indicate the services the web site has to offer and the menus need to clearly direct customers to the places where they can find what they are looking for.

In a physical business, the dress and attire of the employees makes a statement to the customers. Your business will be judged based on the appearance, attitude and smell of the employees. For an online business, the layout of the text, the font and color choice of the background and the use of graphics present the customer impression. In both cases, you must know your target audience. For example if you are selling alternative music them you may want your graphics to be bold and of strongly contrasting colors like those of the album covers of the music you are trying to sell. However for a child development program, you may want to choose more subtle pastel colors and use more traditional fonts with less graphics. Just as in a store for children, you would choose different colors and decorations than for selling punk rock music.

Finally, if you want repeat customers and positive word of mouth advertising, you want to make sure your customer’s buying experience is a positive as possible. Just like in a store where you want customers to be greeted quickly and in a friendly manner when they are ready to pull out their cash or credit cards, you want your online business purchase to be a quick and secure as possible.

Don’t make them make extra clicks or visit any more pages than necessary. Use the fastest credit card processing pages you can find. Do all you can to minimize the time and steps between the point where a customer makes a buying decision and the sale is finalized.

Ensure that the product is delivered as quickly as possible and the quality or the goods or services is what they expect. Make sure you deliver what you have promised from your sales message. And in the unlikely event of an unsatisfied customer, have clear and simple return and refund instructions. Make the refund procedure as painless as possible and still protect yourself from fraud. People who have positive refund experiences are very likely to buy from you again or at least to tell their friends about the positive experience.

As the cliché says, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” So take some time to ensure your website is making a great positive first impression.