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First Impressions – Are they always accurate?

August 14th, 2017

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That being said, first impressions may not always be accurate. We all have friends that, at first glance, we didn’t like very much or have known couples that were married for decades who mention that one of them didn’t really like the other at first. We’ve all used a similar expression to “not a big fan” after meeting people, only to find out that we may have had more in common than we originally thought. Perhaps we are introduced to someone and are immediately told, “he’ll grow on you” after the first impression wasn’t very good.  Drawing from your own experiences on first impressions – are they always accurate?

Recently, I was contacted by a marketing firm via email (not a rarity in my world). They requested a meeting “just to learn more about our business.” They assured me they weren’t trying to sell me anything. Of course I was suspicious. Over the years, we have not had the best of luck with marketers or marketing firms, and it appeared all they are very good at is marketing themselves. However, I responded back to the email telling them they sounded a little insincere in that they just wanted to meet me and not sell me anything. My emailers reply indicated that they were only interested in working with companies that they believed they could help and that were a good fit with their organization. After looking at their website and checking out some of their clients, I agreed to meet with them. That is when things took a strange turn.

First, during my email correspondence with this organization, I would reply to one person and get a response from a totally different individual. In the course of four emails, I communicated with three different people. At one point I questioned this but never really got a satisfactory answer to the query. Despite some obvious reservations, I found myself agreeing to meet with them.

Second, they set up the meeting at their offices. In the past, all the firms we have had dealings with have come to us. Hesitantly, I agreed on the date and time and off I went. Their offices are in a suburb of Boston, south of the city, in a primarily residential neighborhood. When I approached the address, it was a large house in a little disrepair; with a slightly overgrown lawn and a sign that listed several attorneys and other businesses but didn’t make any mention of their organization. After pulling into the parking lot, I tried the phone number on the website but it went straight to voicemail. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I went inside. A young gentleman asked me if I was there to meet the marketing firm and I said yes. He told me to follow him and so I did. We went up two flights of stairs, he considered a few empty rooms and decided to go back downstairs with no explanation. I was then escorted into an office on the first floor that had a desk and two chairs and that was about it. Usually these offices are adorned with ad campaigns from other clients or photos from past events, this office had none of that. My escort said that someone would be with me shortly. He closed the door behind himself and about a minute later it reopened. The same young man walked right back in and sat down, never once did he introduce himself or ask me my name. He just wanted to know about our organization.

We chatted for about 15 minutes and during that time he never did any kind of a sales pitch, which I was fully expecting.  At the end of our chat, he said to me “so how much do you want to spend per month?” Needless to say, I was a little stunned by the question. In hind sight, I’m not really sure why since nothing about my interaction with this company thus far had been what I’d expected. Nevertheless, I told him that usually people identify what they can do for FUN Enterprises, Inc. before talking about a budget. When I said that to him, he explained that wasn’t how they worked and he and his team wanted an idea of what we were looking to spend and they would build a campaign around that figure. At this point, I decided to ask his name, since that information hadn’t been offered to this point (as I mentioned there were three people in the email string that I had connected with).

People who know me might think that right about now I would have told him to have a nice day while heading to the door and getting as far away as I could. Instead, I stayed in my chair and gave him a figure. His way of doing business is not my way, despite being older and on occasion cranky, I do try and stick to some basic business norms. There was something magnetic and a bit intriguing about this young man and his way of doing things. He had an engaging personality with one of those warm genuine smiles. I made a few comments, on the way out, about the appearance of the office space and lack of signage on the building. He chuckled and simply said, “we concentrate on our clients first.” There was an air of sincerity about him that is tough to fake, so I decided to see what he had to offer.

Based on my first set of impressions, I would have driven right by that old Victorian    house and headed back to my office without ever stepping foot inside. That day, I decided to step outside my comfort zone, and maybe, just maybe, this quirky company might do us some good. Fun Enterprises is not your typical company either and some people don’t really understand what we do or how we do it. So, perhaps they will have some unexpected approaches that will connect us with a different client base. Perhaps not, but like I said, first impressions are not always accurate. The jury is still out on this particular firm, as it has now been almost two weeks and I haven’t heard anything from them, not even a quick “hey thanks for coming” in email. But then again, according to my first impression that is the last thing I should expect. 

Posted in the category The World According To....

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