The first stage of your content marketing relationship with your prospective customer/client is when they “meet” you for the first time … when they form their first impression of you.
Let’s be clear … under no circumstance should you “fake it” to make a good first impression.
Lying, misrepresenting yourself, or in any other way presenting yourself (or your products and services) as anything other than what you are ALWAYS will come back to haunt you.
You don’t want to get caught like the wizard in The Wizard of Oz trying to convince your audience to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Don’t hide behind smoke and mirrors in the first place.
Be Genuinely YOU
What is your business identity? What is your corporate personality? Who are you as a person? What are your values, your purpose, your spark?
Let these things shine through!
In an interpersonal relationship, you have your chance to make a good first impression when you meet someone for the first time. That meeting can be a chance encounter between strangers, or you may be introduced to each other by a common acquaintance.
The online equivalent is someone meeting you — finding your website — through a search engine, or a new prospect being introduced to you through a link shared by another source.
To keep things simple, we’re going to assume that your first online interaction with a new prospect happens on your website.
The same principles that we’re about to discuss also apply to your social media profiles, your blog – anywhere that you’ve published an “About Me” description. These all are places where you have opportunities to make a good first impression. But we’ll focus on your website for now.
Your website is where your prospects meet you for the first time. This is your chance to get them interested enough to want to get to know you better. So you want to make it easy for them to do so.
Think about your behavior when you meet someone in person … You make yourself approachable. You have open body language. You don’t stand with your arms crossed or with your back to the room. You smile. You make the other person feel comfortable.
Your website needs to do these same things. It should be welcoming. It should put your prospect at ease. It should be easy to navigate. It should be relevant and current.
Remember the scene at the end of the movie Jerry Maguire? When Jerry is professing his love for Dorothy …
Jerry: I love you. You… complete me.
Dorothy: Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at “hello.”
Jerry and Dorothy aren’t meeting for the first time in this scene, of course, and you and your prospect likely aren’t professing undying love for each other upon your first meeting.
But your “hello” IS the beginning of your relationship. The love may take time to develop, but hopefully, when your prospect eventually becomes your client, he or she will be able to look back and say, “You had me at ‘Hello.’”
Ahhh … current. In person, you would never lead off a conversation talking about things you did or achieved five years ago, or even last year … would you?
These things certainly might come up in the conversation at some point – especially if you did something particularly noteworthy last year or five years ago – but you probably wouldn’t use old news as a conversation starter.
Neither should your website!
Please don’t ever consider your website “done.” Unless your business is dead, shuttered and closed up, your website isn’t done.
There’s a reason that we say a website is “live” when it’s published to the Internet. It has become a “living” entity. It grows, changes, and evolves as your business does … at least, it should!
So keep it current! Do a semi-annual (or even more frequent) review of your content – both what you’re saying and how you’re saying it – and update when and where necessary.
But being current is only part of the equation …
How do you spark someone’s interest? How do you get them to stick around and engage in a meaningful conversation with you? This is where the concept of relevance comes in …
Let’s Talk About YOU …
You make your conversation – your web content – relevant to your prospect.
In order to make that important first impression be a good one and to spark interest, you have to know the answers to two basic questions:
What does your ideal prospect want?
And what qualities do you (and your business) possess that fit what your prospect is looking for … How are you relevant to them?
By focusing your content on your prospect’s wants/needs/desires, you’re putting them at ease and showing them that you understand and care about what they’re looking for.
Of course, you’re telling your company’s story, but you’re telling it as it relates to your prospect! This really is the key to the first step of creating a lasting relationship: It can’t be all about you!
Be Your Prospect’s Mr. Right
Let’s take a look at this from the perspective of an interpersonal relationship …
Mary is single and hoping to meet Mr. Right. She meets two potential suitors – we’ll call them Joe and Mike.
Joe is charismatic and accomplished. He has a good story to tell, and he tells it well. As a matter of fact, he tells it so well and gets so involved in the telling of it that Mary feels like she might as well not even be there. Joe tells a fascinating story, and Mary’s entertained hearing it, but she’s not compelled to pursue a closer relationship.
Mike, on the other hand, is just as charismatic and accomplished. But he takes the time to ask questions and LISTEN to Mary. He relates his story to her and what she finds important.
With Mike, it’s all about Mary. With Joe, it’s all about Joe.
Who will Mary want to get to know better? With whom will she want to pursue a deeper relationship?
Does your website take Joe’s approach or Mike’s?
Show You Care
You’ve heard it before, and it’s true …
Nobody cares how much you know (or what you have to offer) until they know how much you care.
So you MUST show your prospect that you care.
You must show you care about:
• Their time – you get to the point and stay relevant.
• Their needs – you provide valuable content that builds your credibility, but as it relates to THEM.
• Their preference – you give them an easily navigated choice of venues to get to know you better and learn more (pages on the website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, other social media, email, etc.).
The Next Step …
Now that you’ve made a good first impression and sparked some interest, your prospect probably will want to get to know you better.
If it happens to be love at first sight and they’re already ready to make a commitment, then by all means LET THEM!
But if they aren’t quite there yet, you’re ready to move on to stage two of your online relationship – flirtation. Look for the next article in this month-long series next week.
I welcome your thoughts, comments, and additional insights! Leave a comment below.