One of the first business lessons passed on to me by my father was the importance of a firm handshake. Let’s face it we all are guilty of making snap judgments. Handshakes, along with other non-verbal cues are often the genesis of any newly formed opinion.
This leads us back to the opening question; does your brand have a firm handshake? Consumers are interacting with your brand in many ways. Each of those points of interaction serves as a “handshake”, a potential to establish a first impression. The impact of that first impression will often determine whether that consumer becomes a member of your brand franchise. Here is a simple illustration. A yogurt company competing for share of stomach in a very competitive and crowded category launches a new trade promotion. They put an ad in the local paper, get attractive point of sale material placed at the retail outlet and even secure space in an end cap on a busy aisle. They catch the eye of a loyal consumer of a competitive product. Habit energy is strong, so getting this type of behavior out of a consumer is a dream come true. That consumer reaches into the case, pulls out the flavor of choice and quickly notices the package is dirty. Placing it back on the shelf, they quickly walk over and pull their normal brand of choice off the shelf. A poor first impression, an opportunity lost.
The above, serves as a very long-standing and typical challenge faced by many brands. However, today’s climate is radically different. Gone are the days where interaction only occurred at either the point of purchase or during the “push” of broadcast or print media. The explosion of social media increased dramatically the potential interaction points and significantly changed the manner in which a consumer interacts with a brand. Relationships with brands are emotional; modern consumers want to experience a brand. A brand’s voice and personality on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are all points of interaction and present a chance for that initial handshake. Take for example, a consumer on Facebook who posts a comment. If they get a quick response, in language that is aligned with the personality the brand conveys, that is a firm handshake. In many cases, a consumer posts a comment and never gets a response. Again, a poor first impression and an opportunity lost.
It is critical to recognize that every potential interaction point is an opportunity to make a first impression, to shake the hand of your consumer. That interaction point could be at the point of purchase, on the homepage of your website, on a social media site, a call made to customer service, following a truck on the road or meeting an employee. Make sure that your handshake is firm.
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