Header - Article - 3 Keys to Making a Powerful First Impression
Originally published in PPC Magazine.

Even in a world of online marketing and exploding social media, person-to-person communication with customers is still crucial to success in the painting field. Marketing specialist Al Pirozzoli talks about three things you need to think about to make a powerful first impression.

1. What The Prospect Hears

From your voice messaging system to your live conversations, what is the prospect hearing? Is it a positive and confident tone? Is it respectful? Does it involve you actively “listening?” It’s easy to overlook that fact that someone is listening when you’re speaking.

Your focus should be on what the customer is hearing you say - not only in words, but in voice inflections. How you say something can betray what you really mean. Phone conversations (like emails), lack the obvious input of body language, therefore the prospect on the other end will hear your true intentions through the actual tone of voice you use during the call. Your tone will say more than the actual words that come out of your mouth. Having said this, smile when you speak on the phone.

It would also serve you well to have a paper and pen nearby to note what the prospect is saying. By reiterating key points the prospect knows you are giving your full attention.

Also, what does the prospect hear when they get your voice mail or reach you live? It’s amazing how many painting contractors answer their phone in this way:

“John here.” (No company name. No thank you for calling.)

Here’s a more effective approach:

“ABC Painting Contractors, this is Bob Smith. Can I ask who’s calling?”

Taking control of the call from the beginning lets the caller know you’re a professional.

2. What the Prospect Sees

Voice is one issue, visual appearance is quite another. The in-person visit is as critical as the finished paint project. Consider: what does your vehicle look like? I was recently behind a painting contractor’s van. The bumper was falling off. The license plate was rusted. There was body rot. The name and logo were faded to the point it could not be read.

Keep in mind that, as a painter, much of what you do is “image.” Nothing changes the image of a home or facility faster and more cost effectively than a coat of paint well applied and neatly finished. It’s amazing the visual impact a painter can make on a building of any kind, inside and out.

That said, what do you look like when you meet with prospects? Are your whites now a rainbow display? Do you have holes in the pants? Are you wearing a t-shirt with some unusual graphics, skulls, obnoxious wording or other images?

I’m not trying to be funny or insulting. What you look like is what communicates volumes about you.

Again, please don’t be insulted when I say this: If you charge a higher rate for your work you need to dress like you deserve a higher rate. A bad personal image is not commensurate with higher rates and higher value perception. Remember, you are in the image business. Paint is merely the tool.

3. What the Prospect Believes

Does the customer believe you are really interested the project? Nothing is more annoying or insulting than meeting with a prospect and then taking phone calls. The prospect expects and deserves your undivided attention. New technology has its wonderful benefits but it can also command your time at the worst of times.

Daydreaming about the problem you just handled on the way to the meeting, or what you’ll be doing for lunch takes your mind and then your eye contact off the prospect and they know it. Don’t cut the prospect off when she is speaking. It’s insulting and it reduces the prospect’s confidence in hiring you. If you can’t give them attention in a discussion how can they trust that you will give proper attention to the actual painting project?

Remember, it’s all about marketing and you are the Chief Marketing Officer of your business. Therefore, person-to-person marketing is a key to your ongoing success. No one can sell the prospect on your business better than you can.