First Impressions

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You never really know when that first impression comes do you?

It could be at a business meeting when a long-time adversary catches your eye with an insightful idea, or it might be at a front desk when the smile and caring tone of the person on the other end sticks with you throughout the day. It’s not always the first contact that matters, rather it’s the moment when a person is truly listening and taking notice. The problem is, you cannot predict when that moment will come.

When people are paying attention, they take the experience that has just touched them and they invent their own story about you and your work. This is one reason why branding is critical to long-term success. You need to communicate ideas and experiences consistently and clearly at all levels all of the time.

We do what we can to support our existing beliefs.

This takes the idea of first impressions even further. Once we have a first impression of someone or something, we compare it to our worldview and make our own judgments about the experience. In addition to this, we often support the snap judgements we make by telling other people about our experiences! Adding to the complexity of this phenomenon is the fact that these stories are colored by our subjective point of view.

The bottom line is that people come to an experience wanting their beliefs validated. This has significant implications when we consider how to communicate the value of our service or product to a specific audience.

Stories are at the heart of the matter.

We’ve all heard about the power of story, but how many of us are able to share stories that make a powerful first impression? The influence of a particular story depends on how much it supports the existing world view of the person who is listening. It’s not about changing minds, rather it’s about sparking what is already there.

In other words, either you’re open to what someone is saying or you aren’t. For example, you’re either ready to consider what a workshop on meditation offers or you aren’t. Either you’re open to what the new line of Hyundai’s deliver compared to other luxury vehicles or you aren’t. Of course there are many shades of gray in these scenarios, but why play in that space?

Stop wasting time trying to change someone’s worldview!

It’s a game you most likely will not win – and it’s expensive to boot. It’s better to seek out those who are already aligned with your viewpoint. This is why finding your niche is so effective (once you assess whether that niche is a viable market!). Not sure where to make a splash? Find a neglected worldview you believe in and dive in!

That guy, he’s okay but

You are a “brand” whether you know it or not. I tend to beat the idea of branding to death but only because I think it’s so essential to your success! It goes a long way to managing first impressions.

Branding is about clarity of purpose and consistency of behavior around one’s beliefs and values. If you understand your position in the marketplace you have the opportunity to create powerful experiences in all areas of your business. You are better able to create the kind of first impression that will earn you the attention of those you seek. You can take a dull and lifeless practice/business and connect it to something extra ordinary.

News & Notes!

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  1. Lisa Holland  May 22, 2012

    David, when I first started reading about branding I too had a weird reaction to the idea that I was a brand. But, I kept reading about it and I remember a friend referring to my pondering as my “branding phase.” Although the word felt kind of cold, I saw my pondering as a realitic need to examine what I was best suited to offer.

    I’d worked in the corporate world and spent years in school, both places where I had to stifle my interests enough to either get the job done or make the grade. It wasn’t until I started my practice that I got it – brand is identity.

    It’s how we’ll be recognized in a room of like kind. And regardless of the career path we take, we get the chance to be who we want to be. I think it’s better we figure this out for ourselves than leave this important task to someone else.

  2. Barbara Jordan  May 22, 2012

    I loved your blog post David. You gave us some practical tips for branding. I agree that “branding” is critical to long-term success. These days, as a leadership trainer and coach, I try to articulate the value of servant leadership, humility, and integrity. I try to communicate these ideas and experiences consistently and clearly at all levels. I have good days and bad. But, since I’ve been learning many of the same things you note here, I’ve had more and more good days. Thanks David.

  3. David Diana  May 24, 2012

    Well said Lisa! The word “branding” is really over used, which is one reason why people might have an aversion to it. It is incredible when a business or person understands who they are and has found the perfect audience to hear their message. They offer a message and experience that people truly connect with.

  4. David Diana  May 24, 2012

    Great input Barbara! And if you think about branding in terms of your niche as a leadership trainer and coach I’m sure you’ve noticed the different brands that are out there. Many find their own niche in the marketplace. It could be a big consulting outfit like IBM Global Services. Their brand might be more bottom line driven, resource laden, traditional consulting model. Certain organizations might be looking only for these types of outfits. Other organizations might choose to find a boutique firm to address a specific leadership issue. Perhaps they don’t want the same old big corporation and big consulting methodology. Maybe they seek a more intimate and innovative approach? A different perspective that would get them thinking. If you have established a Brand (“Identity” as Lisa has described it) that is in synch with some of these elements then that is when you are able to make that kind of a connection and carve out your own niche.

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