Marketing is about perceptions. It’s not about whether your product or service is better than the competition. It’s not about how many years’ experience you have. It’s all about perceptions. What your clients think of you is what you are to them and nothing more. However, what your clients’ perceive you as and what you perceive yourself as may be two completely different things. Fortunately, we can merge the gap to ensure their perception is what WE want them to perceive.
Finding Your Perception
First and foremost, you have to ask yourself how do you want to be perceived? Try to boil it down to a phrase. The more specific the better. One of my clients I positioned as the DJ for interracial families, another I positioned as an inclusive funeral home, and another I positioned as small group training specialists.
Is Your Perception Taken?
Once you determine what you want to position yourself as, you have to make sure no one else has it. They were there first and by definition they will occupy that place in the mind of your target. You won’t be able to supplant it, don’t try. Thus, if it’s taken pick another category you can position yourself first in (See The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout, Chapter 1). Take my DJ client. Positioning himself as a wedding DJ will have him treated just like everyone else—which is an uphill battle. However, his positioning as the DJ for interracial families puts him first in his service area. Couples that fit his positioning seek him out and his brand has grown as a result.
What Your Clients Perceive You As
This is where reality smacks you in the face. Ask your clients why they use you, why they refer you and the reasons they use you over your competitors. As you start to hear recurring words then you will see your brand perception.
Embracing Your Perception
One of my brands, Cherished Keepsakes, provides funeral programs and other items for funeral services. We’re not the first funeral keepsake provider locally or nationally, so I couldn’t use that. I’ve tried positioning as the best, taken (though one could argue, LOL). I’ve tried positioning as a cheaper option, taken (and a bad move). It took listening to why families continually called us to fulfill their orders. We get it done in time, when everyone else says no.
Our positioning—the fast keepsake provider for funeral homes. When they need it in a rush they call us and our system doesn’t disappoint. However, that perception didn’t come from me—I wanted something different, to be perceived as the best. Yet, we already occupied a specific place (fast=reliability), so we embraced it. Funeral Homes need reliable partners and use us to provide all their keepsakes, rush order or not. Thus, embracing your perception will allow you to capture an entire segment and more.
As you embrace your perception and implement it in your branding you will begin to see a delightful shift. People will seek you out, ready to buy without all the hoopla. Until next time, I wish you much success transforming your business into an amazing brand.
George Paul III is a branding expert and award-winning designer. He’s the Founder of Seize the Brand, an education platform designed to empower business owners by leveraging the power of branding to realize business and life goals.