First impressions

You say banana, I say bahnahnah. Photo by Evan-Amos.

You say banana, I say bahnahnah. Photo by Evan-Amos.

After I graduated from college, I spent two years teaching and coaching at a boarding school in merry ol’ England. I was the only American on campus, and many of the students were intrigued by my Yankee accent.

A typical conversation with an 11-year-old student would go something like this:

Student: Miss Novak, please speak to us in American.

Me: Er, no.

Student: Miss Novak, pleeease. Just this once.

Me (caving): OK, just this once.

Student, holding up a piece of fruit: Tell us what this is.

Me: It’s a banaaaana.

Student (in peals of laughter): Oh Miss Novak, it’s a bahnahnah!

Some researchers claim that up to 38 percent of first impressions are based on the way we sound. The tone and pitch of our voice and our accent can influence what others think of us. Up to 90 percent of messages are communicated nonverbally, with appearance and tone superseding the words we actually say.

For brands, first impressions are a bit more complicated. Customers start developing impressions about your product and service based on word of mouth, online information, interactions with customer service representatives and more. According to Google’s ebook, “ZMOT: Winning the Zero Moment of Truth,” 70 percent of Americans read product reviews before they make a purchase. This means they are reaching for their smart phones, tablets and computers for information. When they visit your website, social outlets and product review sites, what will they read?

Having a website, Facebook page or Pinterest board is fine, but not if they are cluttered with marketing messages. Today’s consumers crave personalization. They want an experience with your brand that is personally meaningful to them and their network.

To create an experience of substance, you need to know your consumers’ behaviors and consumption patterns. You need to know their expectations. Ultimately, you need to remember it’s not all about you.

So give them the banana. Seize the opportunity to create an experience for your customers that is memorable and meaningful – so much so that it becomes an experience they voluntarily want to share.

Clear a path for them to build a meaningful bond and make their own mark.

Brands that are giving them the banana:

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About Julie A. Novak

Julie A. Novak is a professional communicator known for her entrepreneurial spirit, energy and creativity. She creates campaigns that build relationships and loyalty. Julie earned a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University and is a member of Leadership Rhode Island’s 2013 class.
This entry was posted in Audience, Branding, Business, Communications, Facebook, Leadership, Marketing, New media, Public relations, Small business, Social media, Strategy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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