World_wide_webA long time ago, a coworker and I began exchanging quotes and bite-sized food for thought on work and life, etc. We still keep up this practice today even though we’ve long-ago followed separate career paths. In my quest to find something to send to her recently, I found an interesting observation that I think is fitting for those of you who have a business and is well worth pondering:

“Every one of us, unconsciously, works out a personal philosophy of life, by which we are guided, inspired, and corrected, as time goes on. It is this philosophy by which we measure out our days, and by which we advertise to all about us the man, or woman, [who] we are …. [And] it takes but a brief time to scent the life philosophy of anyone. It is defined in the conversation, in the look of the eye, and in the general mien of the person. It has no hiding place. It’s like the perfume of the flower unseen, but known almost instantly. It is the possession of the successful [and defeated], and the happy [and the miserable]. And it can be greatly embellished by the absorption of ideas and experiences of the useful of this earth.” – George Matthew Adams

I find it so interesting that even though this was written long before the advent of the world wide web that we still can’t get away from this simple truth: Our attitude matters.  And, interestingly, today it can be detected just as easily through a virtual connection as it can in person.  It can cause people to want to give us their business again and again or it can scatter them like cockroaches when the light is turned on in a room. Who we are, not just what we sell, is pretty important stuff. And we’re always “speaking” it, even (and especially) in the way we do business.  Whether it‘s in a personal encounter with a client or from the front page of our web site, who we are will shine through.

For those of you thinking about starting a website for your business or for those looking at making changes to your existing one, consider how accurately your site conveys who you are:

Do you greet people with an eye-pleasing environment or are they met with distracting colors and hard-to-read text or disconnected graphics?

Does the value of your product shine through the clarity of the advertising copy?

How easy is your site to navigate to make a purchase?

Can people easily find how to contact you and are you quick to respond?

These things serve as a baseline for customers to make a quick decision of whether to stay and see what you have or if they should move on.  Research shows that it takes customers less than 17 seconds to form a first impression, according to David Saxby, president of Phoenix-based Measure-X.  Worse yet, it takes them three times as long to change their minds. It’s key to capitalize quickly during that brief encounter and put your best forward.

While it might be tempting to make short-cuts or take a do-it-yourself approach to your website, it’s important to weigh the impact of your virtual storefront on customers.  The truth is that people like easy and they like pleasant and they like great customer-service, which really is a snapshot of who you are.  If all we care about is selling the product and have no interest in connecting with people at a personal level or offering them a great experience, there’s a good chance we’ll never make it in the sea of choices people have via the web.  If your site conveys anything less than these things, you may want to reconsider how you manage your social media.  After all, there’s more at stake there, than you may realize.

What’s your story?