First Impressions

Make a Great First Impression.

Every sales trainer advises students on the importance of first impressions: “You only have one opportunity for a first impression.”

Teenagers of both genders learn this axiom from an early age as they make snap decisions about potential new friends on the first day of school. And adults of all ages describe new acquaintances in terms of good and bad visual features of the newcomer which provide instant impressions that remain in their memories: John with the big nose, Mary with piercing blue eyes, Doctor Jones with the soothing bedside manner, Nurse Smith with no patience for her patients, and, of course, Nancy’s beautiful smile caused my love at first sight.

Thus, from very early ages, young men and women are taught to “dress to impress” for positive impact on reportedly important people. Of course, many teenagers rebel and turn out in apparent outrageous clothing — girls in skimpy and tight-fitting attire of mis-matched patterns and colors, boys in loose pants drooping down their backsides — carefully groomed to put parents on notice of their children’s emergent independence.

There is little question that first impressions of inanimate objects cause equally strong and lasting memories of both positive and negative images. Retailers are particularly sensitive to this imagery in window and entry displays as well as presentations of individual sale items — women and children first. However, homebuilders, both big and small, are much less sensitive to the considerable impact of first impressions.

Our clients have been subjected to “first image” advice consistently over the past 30 plus years. As stated in our 1999 book, Marketing New Homes (page 132), “It begins with the community image from the approach road and continues through the high-impact community to interior road images and amenities, the information center displays, and finally, model home exteriors and interiors.” Regardless of the number of models, each displays key impression points for the visitor to take home in her and his memory. First, is the vital streetscape image which successful builders enhance with mature landscaping to complement the front façade. It is at this point that the visitor’s mindset is shaped in positive or negative fashion for viewing the interior. The savvy sales counselor urges the prospect(s) to pause at this point to ensure that they have absorbed all of the positive first impressions. Many sales are lost by the visitor’s rush to view the interior before being fully introduced to exterior features.

The second model home impression is the front entry itself: is it a strong statement of welcome for future visitors? Or is it an understatement that fails to increase the positive street image? Are there positive front porch furnishings to support the initial welcome? Is the prospect feeling good before opening the entry door to the first view of the interior?
And now, the moment of truth, the first image of the interior accessed from opening the front entry door — the image that frequently makes or breaks the desire to own or lease the dwelling being inspected. Hint: If the initial view is not a knockout, enhance it by placing a bright focal object (e.g., vase of bright flowers on a patio table or kitchen counter) to extend the visitor’s attention to the longest viewpoint.

The subsequent route through a model home should be planned to extend space wherever possible. For example, rather than just opening a door to a bedroom, the savvy sales counselor walks directly to the farthest window location and speaks to the visitor from that point in order to extend the visitor’s attention to and beyond the window view. The tour should include a positive feature at every stop and include a visitor query to generate feedback essential to support response. The tour should end at the strongest viewpoint in the dwelling (e.g., a well-equipped kitchen with a view to a pretty pool or large yard or adjacent amenity). Model furnishings should never block the best route through the dwelling or overpower space enhancement.

In sum, although even the best planned tour cannot sell an inadequate dwelling plan, a well-planned tour of strategic images can generate prospect desire for possession of an attractive plan with distinctive features. Positive first impressions can reinforce successive positive impressions toward increasing prospect demand.

If you would like to explore further details on this or other blog articles, please contact Dr. David F. Parker at (904) 992-9888, or david@parkerassociates.com or go to www.parkerassociates.com to read more about what Parker Associates can do for you.

Dr. David Forster Parker
April, 2015
For more information, contact Dr. David F. Parker
or go to our web site at www.parkerassociates.com.

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