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How to Make a Positive First Impression for 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 seconds say to your potential customers?

Simple preparations can go a long way in making a positive first impression on your business. People who expect to do business with you want to be received in a way that they know you will provide them with the goods or services they need. In addition, they want to feel like they will have an enjoyable experience getting the goods or services from you.

The first impression people may have of your business is your 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 website.

If your logo or graphics are confusing or misleading, it will confuse customers and not make them feel confident buying from you. For example, on my way back to the office after lunch, I noticed a sign for a Mexican restaurant with a darling’s head on the sign. I was left wondering what the deer head meant. Did they serve venison?

Your website needs to quickly and clearly convey what your business is about. Fancy flash pages and other slow-loading graphics turn off many potential customers with low-bandwidth connections. How would you feel if you had to watch a movie before you could open a store door?

Once inside a business, the first impression is usually the interaction with the business. In a physical business it will be the employees. Employees should always greet customers with a smile and offer help. For a website, menus and headlines are the first connection with customers. The title must clearly indicate the services offered by the website and the menus must clearly direct customers to the places where they can find what they are looking for.

In a physical business, the clothing and attire of employees makes a statement to 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 choice of background color, and the use of graphics present the customer’s impression. In both cases, you must know your target audience. For example, if you’re selling alternative music, you might want your graphics to be bold and in strong contrasting colors, like those on the album covers of the music you’re trying to sell. However, for a child development program, you may want to choose more subtle pastel colors and use more traditional fonts with fewer graphics. Just like in a children’s store, you would choose different colors and decorations than to sell punk rock music.

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

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

Make sure that the product is delivered as quickly as possible and that the quality of the goods or services is what they expect. Make sure you deliver what you promised in your sales message. And in the unlikely event of a dissatisfied 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 cashback experiences are more likely to buy from you again or at least tell their friends about the positive experience.

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

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