Spice caught up with Perception author Franziska Isela about why it’s critical to control the way your brand is perceived.
‘I’m spending all this time and money on marketing but nothing is working!’
This is an all too common sentiment in the business world. It makes me sad to see small business owners exhausting their resources (and sanity) by spending money on stuff that doesn’t give them a great return.
One of the main reasons why a lot of marketing isn’t working as well as it could is because of perception.
Consciously crafting the perception others have of you and your business is equally as important as selecting the right marketing channels.
It is truly our responsibility as business owners to control how people view our businesses, products or services.
It doesn’t really matter if you’ve been in business for a few decades or a few days, the same principles apply when it comes to becoming the first choice in your industry.
Here are five tips to take control of your perception:
1. Choose your perception
Firstly, you must choose how you want to be perceived. Yep, it really is a choice. If you don’t determine how your product, service or business is going to be perceived, someone else will and it might not be ideal.
First, you must ask yourself, ‘How do you want your business to be perceived?’
This will help you define your brand’s character or personality which forms the basis of influencing the perception others have of your business.
When describing your business use adjectives (descriptive words) such as young, old, fresh, modern, adventurous, safe, cheeky, energetic, vibrant, fast. The less conventional, the better, so stay away from the common words everyone chooses such as professional, quality, experienced.
Make sure you share the above with your team so they are all on board and pulling in the same direction. Your team are your biggest brand ambassadors.
2. Differentiate and blow your customers’ minds
Now that you’ve chosen how you want to be perceived, let’s build on it. We live in a very busy world where we get bombarded by thousands of marketing pieces every day (unless we live on a beautiful remote island somewhere).
So how are you ever going to stand out? How is anyone going to notice you?
You need to differentiate. Unfortunately a lot of businesses copy each other plainly because they think ‘the other’ guy has got it all figured out, but most likely he or she hasn’t. Copying is never the answer and it’s kind of uncool too.
So rather than blending in, let’s carve out your own uniqueness. Or shall we say ‘disrupt’ since it seems to be a very fashionable word at the moment. Either way, focus on blowing your customers’ minds and they will become loyal and raving fans.
To do so, I’ve got two great questions for you. Someone smart once said that the quality of life depends on the quality of questions… or something like that. So here goes.
Ask yourself ‘What’s the frustration in my industry?’
Think about what people are frustrated about when working with someone in your industry.
The second question to ask yourself and others is ‘What would make working with you irresistible?’
You’ll be surprised by how many great ideas you will get from your clients and friends. How about we set a challenge? Ask ten people in the next ten days and then implement the top three best ideas.
3. Amplify your awesomeness
Ok, it’s time to ramp it up a notch. This is the really fun part because you basically take what you’ve figured out in step one and two and amplify everything.
Now you can get really creative and go completely nuts.
To get started, make a list of every touch point your business has with your prospects and customers. This could include phone calls, emails, social media, your shop or offices, your website, invoices.
Then think about how you can amplify your business’ personality and differentiation at each of these touch points.
Let me give you another example. If you’ve chosen quirky as one of your characteristics, how can you add more quirk to your different touch points. You could include a funny quote in your email signature, change your phone greeting to something more quirky, adjust your website copy, send a quirky direct mail to your prospects, give your clients something to smirk about – you get the point.
The amplifying stage is a continuous work in progress and requires a bit of courage and thinking differently. Why not include your team in this process by running a brainstorming session?
4. Be consistent
Consistency is key in taking controlling how others perceive you. If there is no consistency your clients will be confused and confusion doesn’t sell.
The purpose of consistency is to create familiarity, which leads to trust, which leads to more sales.
Make sure that everything you do is consistent across the board in regards to the colours you choose, how you communicate, how you dress, how you interact, how you deliver your services and products.
Why not do a little bit of a consistency check over the next few days to make sure everything you are doing is aligned?
We can’t always influence the circumstances but we can always influence our perception.
Some things are out of our control such as market changes, technology advances, the weather … and sometimes we need to re-invent ourselves.
The other day I was talking to an events manager who was banging her head against a wall because her ten thousand dollar magazine ads weren’t working anymore. They worked ten years ago, but not now. The market changed and so she has to adapt how she is portraying her image.
Staying flexible and adaptive is key for a business to thrive in today’s ever-changing, fast-moving market.
It’s all about continuous, neverending improvements.
To find out more about Franziska’s new book, click here.