You can indeed get a second chance to make a first impression! While most people agree that first impressions are important, new research from the American Marketing Association shows that you can turn a run-of-the-mill experience into an influential first impression. For example, a person's seventeenth visit to a neighborhood coffee shop would normally be unlikely to alter their opinion of that shop much. However, the research finds that when that visit is linked to an unrelated "first", maybe the first visit of the month, the first visit after starting a new job, or the first visit during a special promotion, a mental "reset" button is pushed, leading that visit to have a larger impact on people's impressions, just like a true first visit would. This research, by Robyn LeBoeuf, Elanor Williams, and Lyle Brenner, appears in a recent issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of Marketing Research. It suggests that you can turn an experience into a meaningful first impression in a variety of ways.
In one study, people read descriptions of five visits to the dentist. The fifth visit had a greater impact on impressions of the dentist when that visit was the "first" one after the presidential election (versus when it happened "near" the election). In another study, people read six hotel reviews, similar to those on travel websites. The final review was more influential when it was the first review of the year versus just another review. "By connecting an everyday experience to a first, even an unrelated first, you can turn that experience into a first experience," say the authors. Look for a positive experience, and when you find one, connect it to a first, by pointing out that it is the first meeting after vacation, or the first shopping trip of the season. This can give you a second chance at that first impression.