Newgate Lane

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is a time-honored cliche. Yet we also hear not to judge a book by its cover, that beauty is more than skin deep, and a variety of other cliches advising against snap judgement. What’s a marketer to do?

Impactful first impressions are inferred impressions; what you take away from an interaction creates an inference for subsequent interactions.

For example, if you’re a hotel and your lobby is unclean, the inferred impression is the rest of the hotel is unclean.

If your sales staff is surly before the sale, imagine what customer service will be like after the sale.

First impressions containing non-relevant data won’t create much of an inference. A restaurant’s poor graphic design on its menu doesn’t create an inference about the quality of its food or the service. After all, graphic designers are not cooking your food.

A business that delivers freight and cargo won’t be affected much by a driver’s wrinkled uniform. In fact, a slightly shabby looking driver might create a mild positive inference that the person is working so hard, he’s not had time to do laundry.

Wells Fargo bank made a huge splash in the bank marketing world years ago when they eschewed the expansive lobbies and giant buildings in favor of normal, average offices. Why did they make such a bold leap? The quality of the decor had little to do with the services they provided.

When contemplating what first impressions you’re creating, consider whether they create an inference about the product or service you deliver. Worry about it only if it creates an inference which runs contrary to the promise of what you serve your customers.

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