First impressions matter, whether you like it or not. They matter not only on a personal level but also on a business and even more so when it comes to a church. Our first impression of a business, store or venue sets our expectations for the type of product or experience we perceive we are about to get. The implications of your first impression are huge.
Starting at a deficit. If you don’t “present well” someone’s first encounter with your organization, then you will automatically go into a “deficit” standing. Starting here means you have to work harder to overcome the initial perception of your product, whether it be consumer goods, services or an experience. Basically you’re saying, “we’re better than what you think we are” and then you’ll need to spend time and equity to get your audience to see in a better light. Unfortunately, you often do not get that chance. People quickly pass judgment on you and move on.
Starting at a surplus. Your first impression is great and your new client, donor or member believes what you have to offer is the best thing since slice bread. This deal is yours to screw up. When your organization starts at a surplus, it has a build in momentum with your audience that it can easily overcome bumps in the road and forge a successful relationship.
Interestingly, the difference between starting at a deficit or surplus is most of the time the most insignificant of details. Things like signage, colors, décor, lighting, while completely unrelated to your product, shift people’s thinking either toward surplus or deficit. Much like the way one dresses and carries himself has a way of positioning his perceived professionalism and competence level, so does some of the more utilitarian items such as your lobby chairs or your store window. Sadly, while perception might not be reality, it does matter.
Think about your organization. How well is it managing its first impression? Are you starting at a surplus or deficit?