If you only had seven seconds, to make someone trust you, believe in you, … vote for you – how would you use them? And would you try to influence voters? Will your first impression affect voting decisions if you are running for a local office? And the answer is, YES! Your first impression affects the decisions everybody makes about you, whether you are a government official, a doctor, or a sales professional.
It all comes back to those ABC’s… your appearance, behavior, and communication. These are the major aspects that voters are going to base their first impression of you around, and that you can use as a politician to influence voters. And if this is a totally new concept for you, head to this recent article and video — all about decoding first impressions!
How politicians can influence voters first and foremost
However, something that is important to remember, is that nowadays possibly the most important part of your first impression is your digital footprint. And here’s why.
First, the vast majority of voters will never have the pleasure of actually meeting you in person! Whether you’re in a local office or the white house, voters will primarily be able to reach you and get a sense of your character through their screens. This means your website, your social media, your email campaigns, and any additional media exposure you have. Through these outlets, your voters will constantly be swamped with posts, photos, or video of you where they will further be able to feel you out based on your appearance, behavior, and communication style – and if they aren’t swamped with your digital impressions – chances are high they will from your opponent.
So remember, anything that you’re putting out there needs to be delivered in soundbites because first and foremost, time is an expensive asset – in particular online! People do not want to sit around and watch a long video, rather they want to know who you are as fast as possible.
So put some thought into how you can send your core messages in quick, easy-to-digest, but impactful verbal and non-verbal messages. Think about where you can share your statements. They must be short, kind of tweetable, while still showcasing your core values. What are you going to do and what do you care about? Tell a short story, be engaging, and above all, creativity is key. How can your stories be perceived without any words at all?
Which voters do you attract with your first impression?
Next, take some time to think about your image. I recently launched an Image DNA assessment that tells you what your primary and secondary image personas are. Basically, you will learn how others perceive you based on your initial appearance. Your primary persona is how you naturally come off, your secondary is what is still aligned with your true self and style while providing a different messaging behind it.
Your image persona is important; for example, if you are running for a conservative party you are likely wanting to appeal visually and verbally to a different group than you would if you were running for a more liberal party. This doesn’t mean you should change who you are and the way you look, behave or speak, rather that you should play with your secondary persona to send the subtle messages you’re hoping to send to voters that identify with that persona.
Which characteristics are voters subconsciously looking for?
At the end of the day, voters prefer candidates with personality traits they’d like to assign to themselves; however, they hold you at a higher standard, therefore it’s important to exaggerate your signals and on top to focus on COMPETENCE.
This is generally at the top of the list for the qualities voters look for in those who represent them. They want to know you will get stuff done, even that “stuff” they really don’t fully understand themselves or want to understand in detail — and that use your voice to represent them and their ideals. While most voters do not have the time or patience to judge your competence based on tasks, they will take a short cut. How can you adjust your appearance, behavior, and communication so that your voters perceive you instantly as competent?
While competence is perceived as the most important characteristic, keep in mind that this can change based on the situation or occasion. Not only that, a voter’s perception of you is very dependent on their personal situation during your campaign period. That’s why they also want to instantly feel that you CARE.
You may be thinking, if everybody wants me to care about them and their personal problems, how will I stand for anything in particular? It’s simple really, take care of yourself first and this will show others that you are fit to care for them. For example, if you look as if you do not keep yourself mentally and physically in shape, others will not feel they can rely on you as much.
However, remember when you are putting time and money into, for example, your appearance that you sometimes need to be careful with luxury. While voters want somebody who is successful, they also will be looking at the brands and designers you’re supporting, the coaches you are hiring or the investments you are making into yourself. This can speak to your morals as well as put a price tag on you. Voters can use these price tags to make assumptions about how you’ll allocate financial resources if elected.
As always, it’s all about BALANCE.
Who else do you need to pay attention to?
And just as much as you’re paying attention to yourself, pay attention to your opponent, because all the voters also have eyes on your opponent and how you are interacting with your opponent. The way you react to them, critique them, and attack them will all influence voters, so be mindful of what you’re putting out there!
Finally, remember that you are not a one-person team. The people on your political team and those in your personal life influence the way others see you and therefore the chances if you are going to win “this race.”
This is why you must stay extremely aware of how other’s actions are impacting your image. This to say, be careful of who you bring onto your team and potentially come to an agreement with your family, friends, and campaign team members in order to maintain an optimal image – for you.
Thanks for watching and don’t forget to make your voice heard and VOTE.