First Impressions Count
by Jennifer Stewart
If you're in business, your aim will be to sell a product or a
service. So, how do you go about convincing your potential
customers to buy from you rather than from your competitor?
You must instill confidence; confidence in your ability to
deliver what you have promised to deliver, whether that is a $5
tea towel or a $50.000 company review.
When you are dealing with customers or clients face to face, you
rely on making a good first impression in order to win their
confidence. Studies have shown that lasting impressions are made
in the first three or four minutes of contact. We spend the rest
of the time we know the person - whether it's half an hour or a
lifetime - reinforcing or modifying that initial impression.
I knew I could trust him, from our very first meeting. He seemed
such a charming person; I can't believe I was so taken in. These
face to face encounters rely on a number of factors to create the
- physical appearance - size, shape, age, colouring, sex
- eye contact (or lack of it)
- body language
- facial expression
- voice- tone, pitch, inflection, pace
So, we're using four of our senses - sight, sound, touch, smell -
to make a judgment about the other person.
But what happens when you have to rely on only one sense - sight?
What happens when all you have are words?
Consider the unfortunate baker who advertised:
TRY OUR HOT PIES. YOU'LL NEVER GET BETTER!
When doing business on the Web, you must make sure that the
message you mean to convey, is the message your readers receive.
So always have someone else read your final copy before you let
it loose on the world. It's so easy to miss these ambiguities
yourself - after all, you wrote it, so you know what you meant to
say - others may not necessarily interpret a sentence as you
intended (as with our baker above).
I know this principle has been done to death - but there's no
better way of remembering one of the most basic rules of
communication - Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Author Mark Twain once worked as a journalist and was paid seven
cents a word for his articles. His rule for successful writing
was expressed clearly when he said, "I never write metropolis for
seven cents, because I can get the same price for city."
Avoid the temptation to show off by using big words, when little
ones express the same concepts and take less time to read.
Sentences should be short (a maximum of 25 words - around 18 is
better) and every sentence should have something worthwhile to
say. If it's just there to pad out the page, delete it. Don't
use qualifiers unless absolutely necessary (absolutely is an
example of a qualifier - it doesn't add anything new to the
sentence - delete it). Avoid Basic Errors...
How many times have you left a site before you even knew what it
was offering because the first words you saw were something like
Click hear to recieve grate free stuff. Its you're only chance to
get infromation wich could of saved you heaps if you'd of known
wear to find it before.
Most recent word processor programs have spell checkers and many
also have grammar and punctuation checkers - use them!
Nothing will create a bad first impression quicker than careless
mistakes with basic language. Why should I trust you with my
money, when you don't even care enough to check your spelling?
No Second Chances
Remember - you only get one chance to make a good first
impression. Do everything you can to ensure that it's a good one!
Jennifer Stewart offers professional writing services for web pages, press
releases, advertising material, business reports, content for
autoresponders, technical booklets and articles for newsletters. For those
who want their own writing double-checked for accuracy, Stewart offers proof reading or full editing.
Free writing tips: mailto:WritingTipsfirstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Tips
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