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Friday, 8 November 2013

Split second persuasion. Now.

You've got one tenth of a second. To make a first impression. 

How benevolent we humans are, to still organize a flicker of being non-judgemental. When seeing or meeting someone new, we are fully free from and protected against prejudices - for a full 0.1 second. 

When it comes to opening a website, that's even a long, luxurious, amazing 7 seconds. 70 times more! That big is the difference in suspension of disbelief. 

Playing the piano (poorly) I know: you either capture a listener from the first notes, or not at all.

As any friendship, also a business relationship is a type of 'being in love'. Unless you're locked in together for a long time, it's love at first sight or nothing at all.

As a web designer I know: website visitors quickly scan the overall look, glance here and there - and then they're either intrigued or leave and never come back. 

In all situations, marketing or real life alike,  it's very difficult to fight yourself back into the ear or eye. Exhausting, really. It has become a battle. Whereas there was this brief moment that you were awarded with genuine and open attention. 

Instead of seeing that as a problem, we can be thankful for it and see it as a great opportunity: humans still 'hang out' with websites they wouldn't exchange one single word with were it to be a person in a bar!

For sure that too will change: the future forever evolves towards the virtual world, until we will have identical reactions online and offline. 

It's something all great brands and very successful websites have in common: you believe them from the word go. They do not have to mention: "We are so professional and reliable and have a long track record" etc. You see that in the blink of an eye. 

Why are we humans such highly sensitive radars? 

It's obviously for reasons of survival and self-protection. We capture far more information in much less time than a search engine robot can. Our instant scan is an all-encompassing one: 

The words, the prononciation, the eyes, the expression, the attitude, the clothes, the situation - all that is instantly picked up by our instinct and senses, and cross-referenced with our knowledge, history of experiences, cognitive biases: all layers of our brain. 

We can instantly detect if 'something does not click': this person is wearing Versace but cheap shoes... what she is saying does not correspond with her expression, etc. 

And once that first impression is established, it's very hard to correct it: you might need many repeat encounters, long conversations, a visit to her or his family.

It's a luxury your website does not have: once the first impression is a negative one, visitors will not return. It will end up in an exhausting cycle of social networking and paid advertising to put your website again in front of that visitor, forever trying to correct that first impression. The good news obviously is: we've got 7 seconds! 

At least, that has been the convention for years. That it takes 7 seconds for a website visitor to make his or her emotional decision, whether or not to see your website as a possible contender. To bookmark it or remember it. Personally I think this time frame is forever getting shorter too - until we are in that truly virtual world, in which an online interaction will be identical to a real life experience - and impressions are made within one tenth of a second too.

To put it bluntly: 

If your website / business card does not convince in a split second, it was a waste of energy, money and paper.

More: it will cost you very much. While at the same time makes you lose out on all the potential you could have had. 

Our whole brain is trained in throwing things in the recycle bin AND deleting all items there.

On average we have got 120 Facebook friends. Who forever ask our attention for some 10.000 interesting links, messages, quotes, photos, videos. And this is just the input you get via Facebook. Not even mentioning the perfect storm of all triggers out there.

Our brain is there to make us survive. And in order to survive mentally, it choses to ignore 99.9% of all the background noise in this complete jungle of messages.

You hit home now, or you never will.

You hand over your business card. It triggers a tiny flicker of interest, one split second in which you, the card and situation are being scanned. At that very moment the mind has already been made up, whether your message is forgettable or not. 

If it is, you end up in the situation of that person who forever has to blog, Facebook,Twitter, network, print cards, distribute flyers - without ever converting a contact into a client. 

All the conversations at all the network events are useless. 

Bernardus



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