In Marketing, Make a Good and Lasting Impression
The other night I was teaching my marketing class at Georgetown and I had a guest speaker come in, someone I had known for more than 20 years. And in the course of introducing my friend, I was making the point to the students that relationships matter. That here I was benefitting from a relationship I first made 20 years ago. (After all, if I were just a self-centered jerk, not many people I know would want to come guest lecture in my class for free, much less want to do business with me.) It wasn’t that I knew I would teach a class one day and had the foresight to think my friend could help, it’s simply that over the years, we probably just made a good impression on the other.
And let’s face it, that’s not to say that everyone I’ve ever encountered likes me or even thinks I’m that talented at what I do for a living. A lot of people out there don’t like my style – or just plain don’t want to deal with me personally. That’s OK. My approach doesn’t always have to fit with everyone but I think the goal is still to try to form good, lasting relationships with as many people as you can. And do that starting today and every day.
As I was relating this to the students, that’s where I noted that a lot of people (and companies) too often don’t consider that. They act in the short-term at the expense of the long-term. They focus on themselves at first because that’s what draws people to them – that “hey-look-at-me!” type of approach. At the beginning, such behavior might do a good job attracting attention but after a while, it wears off.
In school, in particular, I’ve seen this happen with a lot of students: Some of these individuals might act charming at the beginning, but then they don’t work hard on a group project with the same people who might one day recommend them. Despite their outward appearance, they dismiss others easily behind their back who one day might potentially be one of their first customers. Or when you really look at how they operate on a deeper level, they don’t care enough to get to know everyday people who aren’t “good enough,” “rich enough” or “smart enough.”
In other words, they don’t make a good, lasting impression on the people who might matter to them one day down the road. Let me explain a bit more what I mean.
Marketing Isn’t About Just Making a Good First Impression
First impressions certainly matter, especially in marketing. And I don’t want to discount the splashy entrance, the big launch, or any work that involves putting your best foot forward at the beginning. But all that effort you might put in at the beginning is like a mirage in many ways. It’s inevitably focused on that “look-at-me” type of approach because you want to draw attention to yourself or your brand. Marketing for the long haul, however, is a lot more about focusing on your audiences, your forming good relationships with them, and paying attention to little details, like personalizing communications with individuals to the smallest detail you can.
That effort, of course, takes work. But that’s the difference (I would argue between average marketers and great marketers.)
Why Some People Have a Mistaken Impression of What Marketing Is
If you ever want to do a good sociological experiment, search for #marketing in Instagram or Facebook and see what comes up. If you follow the tag (like I do), inevitably you’ll see a lot of pictures – people taking pictures of themselves and posting it. For certain individuals, especially attractive people whose brand is really just themselves, that is marketing. And in this case, these individuals are just putting out more of what people want after all – more of themselves. And such a “look-at-me” approach can certainly work in those cases as such individuals can get followers, get asked to become influencers etc.
But to me, that’s a rare exception. And that’s where the culture can steer you wrong about what marketing is and isn’t. After all, the culture tells you one thing all the time: “You do you” or “be your own man/woman” and say it loudly and proudly. It’s this solipsistic approach that can lead people to believe, well, that is marketing – you trumpet yourself as loudly as you can. And today you see people and companies just blasting out more and more about themselves.
Long-Term Relationships and Marketing
As mentioned, that’s OK. But it can also be a slippery slope that can lead you to believe marketing is all about you. (It is to a point, but in the long run, it actually isn’t at all.) Over time, I’d argue it’s about you and your business making a lasting impression and forming good relationships with your audiences. It’s about developing a customer-focused narrative that you not only inhabit but really live so that people come back and then refer others to you.
How do you make a lasting impression?
To give you an example, for a number of small businesses we know, their first customers were individuals they may have met in high school, or in college, or maybe earlier work experiences. In other words, what made those customers choose that business? That person or the group of people who run those small businesses probably made a good last impression on those individuals early on, who trusted them enough to try out the business. Those same people were probably also the first ones to recommend and refer other people in their network to their business, as well.
That’s why we always say the best marketing you could ever do (whether for yourself or for a company) is to make a lasting impression on people. You can do that by starting now to invest in relationships with others, whether you’re a student and meeting other students or as a business in terms of really focusing on customers’ challenges and delivering on them. If you are an existing business, a few quick things you can do starting today:
- Be more empathetic with customers and work harder to come to understand more of their challenges and see what you can do to help them, regardless of whether you get paid for it.
- Start to analyze the ways in which you communicate with audiences (e.g., your site navigation, language you use in email, or your content approach), making it less about ‘you’ and more about them.
- After you establish your brand awareness (you), start thinking of ways you can establish more trust among both existing customers and the potential customers who are just learning about you.
To validate what I was saying, our guest speaker that day in our Georgetown class actually mentioned the same thing about his own relationships and his consultancy. He noted that his business too started with all the people he had worked with in past jobs – those that trusted him and with whom he had formed a good relationship. I think that’s the power of making a good lasting impression. Hopefully, if it’s something you’re not doing it now, you can make the effort starting today. I think you’ll reap the benefits of that approach long into the future.
At Marketing Nice Guys, our goal is to help you excel in digital marketing. We do that through our agency operations, marketing guidance, and training. Contact us for more information and get a free consultation to discuss any of your marketing challenges.