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It only takes a few seconds to make a powerful first impression

Many studies have been performed over the years measuring the length of time visitors’ remain on various pages and whether interest is generated or not. My own observation and research, although somewhat anecdotal, indicates that most visitors spend very few precious seconds on home pages and quickly determine whether to hang around or flee. One of my favorite analogies is to compare home pages to highway billboards. Such billboards only have a brief second or two to grab the driver’s attention while web site home pages luckily have a few more seconds and are usually safer for most drivers. So what can you do to quickly create interest and credibility when visitors arrive to your site? I believe the answer is quite simple and obvious. You first must make sure that the design of your site is professional, clear, clean and effective with easy navigation methods. Then in order to achieve high instant credibility, your focus must be on four critical components as illustrated in the chart below are: Your intellectual property, clients’ results, clients’ testimonials and your clients’ list.

Clients’ List – List the names of your clients and possibly even include their logo for a nice visual presentation and the link to their web site. This is an easy way to establish credibility and my belief is that the more names you list the better the impact.

Testimonials – If you tell me how great you are, I may perceive it as fluff, yet if your client tells me how great you are, it is somewhat of a proof. Consider including a short and powerful sentence quoting one of your customers with the person’s name, title and organization name below the testimonial. My suggestion on the home page is to rotate your top five to ten testimonials every few seconds or so, with a link to display the complete testimonials page. On that page, I would place all your testimonials so it shows a large amount and overwhelming list making it obvious that you have tremendous amount of satisfied customers. My preference is to display a very short version of each testimonial inside a rectangular box, surrounded by double quotes and with a link to display the complete scanned testimonial as was received on your client’s letterhead and with their signature. I also find audio and especially video testimonials of your customers to be extremely effective and powerful.

Clients’ Results – For service companies it is a collection of five to ten powerful outcomes and results your clients have been able to gain while or after the time of working with you as a direct result of your work. Examples could be: increasing revenues, profits, growth, market share and efficiency. Improved reputation and life balance. My preference is to display a pithy result, which is supported by a client testimonial to add credibility and proof. For non-service companies, I would recommend using proof statements that create credibility about the use of the product, supported by testimonials.

Case Studies – Incorporate a successful collection of your clients case studies. Each should incorporate the challenge they were facing when you started working with them, the intervention or the solution you’ve implemented and the results or outcome your work has generated for their business success. I recommend you keep them short one to two paragraphs for each of the sections. Also keep in mind that one case study may discuss the challenges of multiple clients. In other words, you may explain how several challenges, faced by several clients, were addressed through your intervention.

Intellectual Property (IP) – This is the section of your web site where you get to demonstrate your knowledge. If done right, it is the important section that has the potential to generate the quickest and highest credibility. I’ve written on this extensively and my take is that if you think you are delivering too much of your IP on the web and in your writing, you are on the right track. I want my future customers to say:’ If this is how much he shares with me before I become a client, I can only imagine how much he would share once I so become a client.” This is exactly what I want my clients and future clients to recognize from visiting our site. The important consideration of this section is to include large amount of valuable IP that generates interest, position you as a smart person of interest, while provoking and inspiring your audience. As far as the delivery of such IP, here are some ways to consider: Audios, videos and podcasts, articles, newsletters, case studies, white papers, checklists, surveys, and special reports. Don’t forget to ask your client for permission to include their names in any of the suggestions above.”

This article outlines simple and commonsensical ways of creating credibility in the eyes and minds of your site visitors. This can obviously and easily be done assuming you have created good IP, powerful results for your happy clients and have received testimonial letters. Otherwise, starting today, will probably be a good idea to help create a positive impression of your company and in crease your credibility.

© Chad Barr 2008 All rights reserved.

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