I often talk about focusing on your customer when you’re building your brand. That is a solid advice and applies really to almost anything that your business does. One part of the branding process is to define your ideal customer with enough detail that you can bring them to life in your mind whenever you need a reminder of who it is your serving and who’s the target of your marketing efforts.

What doesn’t get talked about as much is the different mindsets of that customer — your ideal customer. Before they become your actual customer, they are a prospect; someone potentially considering to buy your services or products. Sometimes you catch their attention before they even know they need your product.

In marketing, they talk about “cold audience” and “warm audience.” Someone who hasn’t “warmed up” to your brand yet, someone coming into contact with your content or an ad for the first time, is considered cold audience. Warm audience on the other hand, is the people who are agreeable to your messaging, they love your content, they are interested in your products and services, and they like and trust you and your business. 

Needless to say that warm audiences are easier to sell and market your products to because they are already eagerly looking forward to hearing from you. So, one strategy for your business should be trying to convert as much cold audience into warm audience as possible. Your marketing efforts, your valuable content, and you showing up to serve your customers are all important parts of your “warming up” your audience. But also your branding plays a big role. Maybe bigger than you’re aware of. Let’s take a look at this a bit closer.

First impressions are huge in branding and marketing. And it only takes about 10 seconds for your potential customers to form an opinion about your business. This means that you have 10 seconds to quickly convince them that yes, you’re business and product are interesting and important and they should keep listening to you, reading your blog or email, stay on your website, stay with you ad… or whatever the first touch point you have with them.

That split second decisions they are about to make for either staying with your and your marketing or leaving, is part of a micro conversion. What is a micro conversion? Traditionally in marketing, micro conversions are small-ish actions your customer takes towards your bigger conversion goal. Let’s say your conversion goal is to sell your coaching program. In that case, and in a traditional sense, a micro conversion could be someone subscribing to your email list. 

They didn’t buy from you yet… But do you remember the cold and warm audience stuff above? They just took a step towards becoming part of your warm audience. This means in the future, it’s going to be much easier to sell and market to them. 

So, that’s a traditional explanation of micro conversions. But when it comes to branding, I like to take it a bit further… Before that prospective customer has subscribed to your email or freebie a lot has to have happened. Most of it subconscious. 

So, I mentioned it takes about 10 seconds to your potential customers to form an opinion about your business and brand. In reality, it takes only 2 seconds to lose that customer because on average they’ll spend less than 2 seconds with your marketing if they don’t immediately feel drawn to it. Facebook reports that depending on the device, people spend on average 1.7-2.5 seconds with Facebook ads. Logically, after that ~2 seconds, they either click on your ad …or keep scrolling. 

These numbers are similar to what I saw reported on people spending time with magazine ads about 15 years ago when I was working on designing and creating ads for printed media. At the time, 1.7 seconds was reported as the average time people spend with printed ads (large, full page magazine and newspaper ads). So, I think we can conclude that roughly 2 seconds is the time you need to convince someone to keep reading your ad copy or watching your ad video. 

So, let’s assume you use Facebook ads to attract customers. First, you have ten seconds to convince your potential customer that they should stay with your ad. Then, on top of that 2 seconds, you have another 8 seconds to give them a great first impression and convince them that your business or your offering is worth getting to know better, that you have something valuable they need or want.

“In News Feed on Facebook, we’re seeing people spend, on average, 1.7 seconds with a piece of content on mobile compared to 2.5 seconds on desktop.” (Facebook IQ: Digital Research and Insights April 21, 2016 Capturing Attention in Feed: The Science Behind Effective Video Creative)

Another critical thing to understand is that people make decisions almost entirely based on their feelings. Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman states in his book How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market (2003) that 95% of customers’ decision making happens subconsciously and based on emotions. According to Zaltman, tapping into customer’s emotions can result into major boost in sales. 

Essentially, our decision-making is subconscious and driven by emotions. Customer make judgements in a fraction of a second about whether they should stay with your ad or not, and it’s almost entirely based on a gut feeling they get in that time. So, we need to capitalize on that first two seconds. Before anything else can happen, we need a tiny micro conversion (nano conversion?) where our prospective customer decides to give us the next 8 seconds — and more.

Thank goodness for branding! There’s A LOT we can do. First of all, using the right color can increase the likelihood that your ideal customer will stop scrolling and read your message by 40%. So, we need to urgently figure out what is the right color for your customer, what color do they feel drawn to.

Color also helps people to remember things associated with the color they saw, e.g. Starbucks and green. And since your prospective customer needs on average 5-7 impressions on your branding before they remember and associate it with your business and offering, you need all the help you can get. (And you need to stay consistent… think about what happens if each time of those 5-7 impressions your brand looks and feels different. How do you think that might affect the process?)

Secondly, our brain processes visual information, like colors, shapes, and images, 60 000 times faster than words. Talk about making the most of that 2 to 10 seconds you have for making a great first impression! So, we need to make sure that your marketing communication uses visual cues to reinforce the message. And that the visuals that you use are the ones that speak to your ideal customer. 

Thirdly, we know that colors and imagery can evoke (sometimes strong) feelings. And we just learned that 95% of our decision making is subconscious and emotionally driven. You get where I’m going with this…? We should urgently make sure your business uses the kind of visual identity that gets your potential customers to first stop scrolling, then feel positive reinforcement and that this is definitely meant for them, and finally feel an emotional connection to your brand. 

Think of successful branding as a signage system that guides the right people to you giving them little hints along the way showing which way to go. And confirming that they’re going in the right direction: to you and your offering. When built right, this signage system guides only the right people to you: your ideal customers. And rest will follow someone else’s signs.

P.S. If you haven’t already done so, come check out our free Facebook group DIY Brand Design & Strategy for Soulpreneurs where I teach soulpreneurs like you to build their own branding and create their own designs.