The Myth of the First Impression

Posted by Dave CollinsMarketing

Making a great first impression is misunderstood.

When you meet someone for the first time, you’ll probably make some sort of instant judgement based on what you see. What they’re wearing, how they hold themselves and so on.

But this first impression can be forgotten.

Perhaps you weren’t initially impressed by the guy you were introduced to at a conference. He may have looked a little shabby, and seemed ill at ease and awkward.

But then you saw his presentation, and the content of his talk and his depth of insight dazzled you. You saw him in new light.

But still nothing has been permanently etched. Perhaps after the talk you spoke with him with a view to using his services, but his arrogance and general disinterest annoyed you.

So the first impression was overshadowed by the second, and this in turn was dominated by the third and possibly final impression.

The chronology of events isn’t anywhere near as important as the significance and scale of each.

If the presentation wasn’t of interest to you, you might still think of him as awkward and uninteresting. Or if he’d been only slightly disinterested in your proposal you might have been able to overlook this.

When you sell software online there are many chances to make a good impression, and some are more relevant than others.

The appearance and clarity of the website are important. Get it wrong, and users may go no further.

The installation/signup process is also important. Get it wrong and the exasperated user may simply give up.

And let’s not overlook the product itself , the quality of which determines whether the user buys or walks away.

But every single interaction between the product and user creates a new chance to create a lasting impression.

Consider the Screaming Frog SEO Tool as an example.

First impression: a cool name with a basic & clean page, but it’s all features; no benefits.

Second impression: the video was basic and  the content technical.

Third impression: the software looked clunky and ugly.

Fourth impression: the software blew me away. Five minutes after running it for the first time I paid for a pro licence and will no doubt continue to renew each year.

For me the fourth impression was the one that stuck, which is why I keep using and recommending the software.

But the more important point is that any of the slightly negative experiences may have been the last. The website may have put me off the trial, and I may have walked away never to return.

But as mentioned earlier, the significance and scale are important.

The website wasn’t terrible, the video made some good points, and the interface wasn’t of great significance to me.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, but every interaction has the opportunity to be the one that lasts.