The Power of First Impressions

All my life I’ve had problems with my feet — Adams feet.  The whole family has a history of bad feet.  Mostly, the doctors either said “There’s nothing we can do,” or “You need shoe inserts” — at $300.  No one ever told me what was wrong with my feet or how I might find shoes that worked better for them.  And it was always challenging buying them.  Most simply didn’t fit, and others were built in such a way that my feet would roll or hurt.

In the last week, I discovered that I have high arches (thanks to Dr. Scholls!).  So I looked online for information that would tell me how to buy shoes.  And found actual shoes.  That led me to a local shoe store.  It was run by one man, who was more interested in making sure I got shoes that fit right, than simply selling me whatever he could.  Afterwards, he asked, “What else can I do for you?”  He also answered my questions about shoe wear (these shoes are higher on the outside, so the wear will show up there) and shoe care.  I’m definitely going back — not only because they have the shoes, but because of the customer service.

First impressions are important.  As writers, we have all kinds of options available to us via the internet.  Twitter, blogs, Facebook.  Just the other day, a writer posted a profanity laced diatribe against people who were self-publishing (link goes to a blog discussing it, rather than to the site).  Part of the social networking side of book marketing is selling the Brand Writer.  A bad first impression like cussing at other people may create controversy, but it’s probably not going to sell books.

Several years ago, a lawsuit involving a plagiarism case was settled in favor the writer who was sued.  I posted a link to the news story on my blog and noted that it had been settled.  Apparently, the writer who had sued was watching for any posts about the case and posted a canned comment on my blog.  It was a heaping of sour grapes, but I did go look at his website.  The site was worse.  I got why he was bitter — his publishing company had gone bankrupt, so he had a book on shelves that he was never going to get paid for.  But that didn’t make up for the really bad first impression he gave me.   What the he didn’t know when he commented on my blog that I had picked up his book from the library because of the lawsuit, and because it was an action novel.  If I’d liked it, I would have bought others.  Instead, I stopped reading less than 50 pages in.  Haven’t touched any of his books sense.

What’s an example where a first impression either sold you on something or turned you completely off?

These are the shoes I got:

Walking Shoes – Very comfortable!  I got the white version.

Work Shoes – Has a curved sole, with a rolling motion.  A little strange at first, but is supposed to help me walk better.

Winter Boots – The last ones I had really hurt my feet, but something was necessary because when it snows, I often have to walk through it.

I hope for Veteran’s Day you’ll check out my article “Grateful for a Gift to “Any Soldier” on The Washington Post.