It’s happened to all of us at least once in our professional lives. We’ve sent an email with a typo to a new boss. We’ve sent incorrect prices to new clients. We’ve tripped over our tongues while trying to pitch a prospective client or donor. And once that happens, once we make a bad first impression, we’re sunk for life, right?
Not according to Shana Lebowitz. In her article, “5 Psychological Strategies to Reverse a Bad First Impression” (Business Insider, May 17, 2016), she argues that first impressions don’t have to be lasting impressions if you take a few steps to overcome them. While we believe the writer refers only to in-person first-impressions, we believe these some of these same principles can apply to printed, marketing communications. Here’s how you can win back customers following a marketing mishap:
1. Get a good endorsement
According to Lebowitz, people are more likely to change their opinions about someone or something if they get new, positive information from a source they trust. If you goofed up with your direct mail—if it was off-the-mark and didn’t get opened, if it contained an error, or if it created a negative response or reaction that you didn’t anticipate or intend—call in reinforcements. Ask a trusted industry spokesperson, a widely recognizable client, or a respected public figure to sing your praises.
2. Prove your worth
In her article, Lebowitz suggests righting a first-impression wrong by making yourself indispensable to the person you embarrassed yourself in front of. This is easier said than done in an office environment, where you can volunteer to work on the same project as the person you’re trying to justify yourself with, but harder when that “person” you need to get right with is a mass of geographically separated people you can’t get one-on-one time with.
Our interpretation of this solution? Don’t give up. Continue to market to your audience with confidence and highly targeted messages. Show your market that you know what they struggle with and how your organization can make life better for them. Make it clear in that teaser copy, in your subject line, in your headlines, that they will benefit from your expertise.
Even among the most professional among us, people make mistakes and have off days. Believe in the power of second chances, and try again.