The Marketing Truth You Cannot Ignore – Perception is Reality!
This simple statement can enhance or destroy your business!
So; Just what is perception? Perception is defined as the process by which individuals select, organise and interpret stimulation of their senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing or taste) into a meaningful and coherent picture of your business. The picture painted by the customers senses should be Reality. Reality can of course exceed expectation.
Much of the disciplines of marketing communications focuses on creating stimuli that positively influence consumer perceptions. Does your marketing do this?
What is the product you are selling? It’s important to define. It’s not just a consumable product, or service that you sell. It’s the whole business. The way it looks outside and online. The quality of the toilets. The look of the signage. The quality of the menu, or a price list, whether its stained and dog eared, or whether is clean and new. All of these messages create a perception for the customer.
I once took a holiday in the Isle of White at a hotel on the seafront. When I arrived the first letter of the hotel name was missing. I immediately thought, this could be ‘Faulty Towers’ experience, and it was! The availability of poached eggs was confined to certain days. The lift doors didn’t stop if they touched you (I literally had to wrench my shoulder from the doors), and to top it all, unsympathetic staff. There were many more incidents too. The message I want to share with you here is my perception was disappointingly – a reality. Some hotels will unfortunately, have the same negative messages on the outside, customers viewing these messages may well assume that the standards are poor because of those external message and pass to stay at another hotel instead. This is lost business for that hotelier and they wouldn’t have noticed, because the customer wouldn’t have told them. The messages outside your business are crucially important, and; will make a difference to your income, either positively of negatively.
My advice: Take a regular look at your business with the Customers Eyes. Identify what you perceive, and then strive to communicate with the customer with all of their senses making sure that its positive and matches what you intend them to perceive.
Do you perceive these vegetables to be abundant and fresh?
What about this shop?
Perception is ‘nothing fresh and nothing to make your meal with’. You would probably go to a different supermarket. The big question is ‘Would you go back to the original supermarket?’ Have they now lost your business?
In consumer behavioural terms, perception is the result of two inputs that interact to form the personal evaluations that ultimately drive purchase:
- Physical stimuli from the outside environment
- People’s expectations and motives based on past experiences
While it’s difficult to impact the expectations and motives formed on past experiences, here’s how you, as a marketer, can impact the physical stimuli consumers perceive in your business.
Much of the discipline of marketing communications focuses on creating stimuli that positively influence consumer perceptions. Best practices in doing so include:
- Identifying your product’s value proposition: In order to influence perceptions, you need to define and document your product’s value proposition, don’t forget your product is not just the consumable product or a service, it’s the whole business. Your value proposition is your big picture promise, the benefit your product or service uniquely provides. Defining your value proposition requires you to understand your target customers’ unmet needs and how your products, as well as that of your competitors, will fulfil those needs. Identifying gaps where your customers face unmet needs that are not fulfilled by competitors can help you to identify your product’s value proposition.
The Basics of Marketing
- Find out what the customer wants
- Design the product, service and facility to match
- Tell the customer you have it.
- Telling the customer you have it, includes using all of the customers senses.
Director for BHMA Limited.