When Perception is Reality

There’s what you do, and what your clients think you do. If you’ve heard the cliché in the title, you probably realize that it’s being used to get someone out of work. Or, it could be a veiled way to tell you that you’re doing a crap job. I suppose it depends on the context. But I digress…

The reality is that your clients perceive you in a certain way. That perception is their reality, even if it isn’t the real reality. The way your company is perceived can make or break it, so it’s important to control that perception as much as possible. Make reality their perception. It sounds like one of those things that’s easier said than done, so let’s discuss.

There’s a reason the public perceives your company a certain way. Take a look at the aspects of your company that may be creating that perception. Maybe it’s your advertising, maybe your customer service track record. In fact, did you ever think that your clients believe you provide something other than what you intend to provide?

Here are five simple steps to help fix an incorrect public perception:

  1. Figure out how the public perception is divergent from the reality of the company. You have to know where you’re at before you can figure out how to get to where you’re going. A map is useless if you don’t know where on it you are.
  2. Rebuild your company’s identity. It sounds like quite a difficult and lengthy task, and it is. Hiring a professional can help. However, it’s impossible to change public perception without a clear vision of your company’s identity.
  3. Realign your product offerings to match your mission. Sometimes you find that some of your products fly in the face of your mission. Remove them. Sometimes your offering segment is far too broad to explain to your customers. Streamline it. Simplify and clarify whenever possible.
  4. Change your marketing strategy. It’s important to make certain the public knows about this refocused image. Get the word out that your company has a new core focus, even if it’s the same one you started with. Your existing and potential clients need to know you’re different than they thought. Make sure your marketing partner knows how to do it right.
  5. Retrain your front line.Make sure your employees are the embodiment of your refreshed identity. Once you tell your customers that you’re going to be faster, friendlier, and more reliable with your product offering, you’ve got to be able to back it up. It wouldn’t hurt to have the right equipment for the job, either.

It’s easy to think that a washing of your existing brand can hurt you, convincing yourself that it’s better not to re-invent the wheel. However, what if the original wheel sucked, and the new one is better? Wouldn’t want to miss out on it, would you? Don’t take it from me, though. Have a look at how companies that begun as an open-sourced offering are causing their open-source marketing to disappear in favor of a more value-based identity where the open-source software is the means, not the end. Matt Asay does a much better job of explaining it than I do, which is good, since it’s his article.

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.