First Impressions for Cool People Like You
You walk into the room and take a look around. You see your peers hanging out and chatting about that show you hate. It’s somewhat hot, so you’re very glad you wore your zip off cargo pants, which you now unzip and let the pant legs fall around your ankles. You pull out a bag of Skittles and bounce them off the desk toward your face with a very good success rate of a little more than 40% actually making it into your mouth, practice has been paying off. Your crush’s eyebrows raise as you make eye contact, obviously this is a sign of admiration. You wink and bounce another Wild Berry Skittle towards your mouth and into your cheek. Your crush turns away. Your My Little Pony ringtone goes off and you take your phone out of its belt clip. Its your daily cats fact trivia text. You chuckle at the thought of cats jumping up to five times their body height and begin to jump up and down next to your seat while meowing. Everyone laughs at cats with you. You feel popular. However, I need to tell you, you may not be acting how some would call “appropriate” or even “socially acceptable.” Don’t worry though, I’m not here to change you, just improve you in the only way I know how. Painful inward reflection that reveals deep-seeded fears about your struggling relationships with others. Sounds fun? Okay! Let’s begin!
Do they come in leather?
The Art of the First Impression
I’ve spent a lifetime making bad first impressions. I know I know, you think a cool guy like me has it all figured out, but in reality I have a bit of a problem convincing people that my unique charm does not make me abnormal. Come on though, don’t judge me. You’re the one scooting around on adult-sized Heelys. The point is I’ve learned through experience, and I know that the best way to be cool and not embarrass yourself is by making good first impressions. That’s easier said than done, but I’ve got a few tips to turn you from Shia LaBeouf into at least a Rick Moranis or maybe a Joaquin Phoenix if we’re lucky. We may not be able to get into some of the personal quirks we all have, but as a professional we can make you stand up and stand out in a good way from your peers. So tighten your wallet chain, and let’s get started!
They come in leather. And no, you can’t pull them off.
The Semblance of Having Your Life Together
Humans are programmed to gather information and dissect it quickly. However, this ability is not always reliable, and our snap judgments about situations and people are often wrong. Take for instance a situation I found myself in last weekend. I was at one of those outdoor art festivals, you know the kind I mean. Like a street fair with tents set up to sell homemade crafts that range from rusty cans glued together to bits of fabric tied together. Well amongst the displays was a painter who was actually quite talented with a few dozen paintings in the cubist style. The pictures were all hung nicely on the temporary wall and the overall impression was one that justified the expensive price tag. Then I picked up his business card and it all went away. The cheap paper, the stock image, the font from a 4th grader’s poster presentation on her new puppy, the layout all came together to make an image that lacked any sort of quality. If I had seen the business card first, I would have walked away, and in many situations, the business card is all that a prospective client will see. Now there is a difference between a business card that is cheap and a business card that looks cheap, and you want to stay away from the latter. Presentation matters, and, ultimately, the people you interact with do not have the time to look deep into your body of work and quality of your services to make an informed decision. For this reason, every customer-facing bit of media needs to show your best face. Your website, Facebook business page, and business card are all places that need to look like they have more than the bare minimum of work put into them. This isn’t high school, you have to try.
Professor Oak’s eyesight was slipping, but you could make a bit more of an effort to dress a little nicer.
Impress Your Friends, Baffle Your Enemies
The truth about design is that like Bruce Willis’ career it rides a fine line between good and bad, and while you can copy a good design and change the key details, it can still end up really bad. Representing the quality of your work with branding that matches in quality is the most effective way to grow your business besides rich benefactors leaving you everything. That first look is what is going to pull clients in and have them look at your work. The more engaging your content, the more invested a potential client becomes both with their time and their emotional connections. Sure a nice business card might cost you $15 dollars more than the cheaper business card, but when everyone who gets one actually looks at it and doesn’t want to throw it away, its more than worth it. When your website loads and instead of some cheap HTML 3 text on a tiled jpeg background, a nice, well-laid-out website that is responsive and easy to navigate meets the client, everything goes better. It’s probably as important as the birth of your second child, so don’t skimp here. The chance to establish yourself as cool, put together, and professional is entirely placed upon the first impression, it is only after communicating with clients and customers over time that you have the chance to revise that impression, but a bad first impression will turn people away and that opportunity to convince them that you have other skills besides dramatic cape swoosh exits.
You get what you pay for in web design. I took this screenshot today, in 2015.
Back to School
We may not have addressed your wardrobe or erratic behavior, but that stuff is you. Own it, and wear it as a badge of pride, but when it comes to design and marketing, don’t be fooled into thinking that being small is an excuse for bad design or that having the design done by someone unqualified yet instrumental to the business (even yourself) is a justification for poor marketing. Don’t let your work go to waste while customers run away like my Pappy after eating at a restaurant when the bill comes. Get something that is distinctly you, but make sure it’s good. The best investment you can make is the one in yourself.
Join me next week for: Bedazzling Your Zip Offs without Breaking the Bank: The Truth About Ultra-Bulk Rhinestone Orders
Trivia: receive 10% off multi-page websites or get 10% off headshots when you email me the correct answer to the following question with the subject “Embarrassing Trivia” (offer valid through September 12, 2015 and may not be combined with any other offer.)
In August 2015, what company retired one of its three iconic advertising vehicles?
Highlight for answer: On August 10, 2015, Goodyear retired one of their famous blimps, the “Spirit of America”. A new semi-rigid blimp is being constructed to replace it.