It’s All About Perception (Strategy)

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When you’re making a choice about what to buy (product or service), what influences that decision?  if you’re like most people, it’s the perception you have about that product or service.  In other words, you believe that company A’s product or service can better meet your needs.  Or maybe you believe that Company B’s quality and reliability are better than the others. Or maybe you believe that Company C’s responsiveness and customer service levels are higher than the others.  Whatever you call it, at the end of the day, it’s all about the perception you have about that company, product and/or service–and your value system. Correct?  Absolutely.

The reason I bring this up this week is because I just completed listening to a friend of mine’s audio book on, "If You Are ‘Implementing Your Strategy,’ You Don’t Have One," by Dov Gordon ( Dov does a great job of clarifying the difference between strategy and tactics (one of the most common mistakes that those of us who do strategy consulting have to keep clarifying).  However, what I thought Dov did the best job at was clarifying that strategy is about answering two twin questions ("Who precisely is our market?" and "How does each target market need to perceive us in order to want to do business with us?"). I love that last question.

This is where remarkability intersects with strategy and with tactics.  When a company or organization chooses to be remarkable, knowing that "everything in life moves from remarkable to ordinary to death," they have made a strategic choice.  Remarkability isn’t a tactic. It’s a strategy.  Choosing to clean the home of your clients for free before an open house (assuming you’re a realtor), would be a tactic (and it would be remarkable.  Have you ever had a realtor do that for you? And if you did, would you remark to others about it? Absolutely!).  But what drove the tactic, was the strategy.  And what did the strategy and the tactic together accomplish? The creation of a more attractive perception.  When it’s all said and done, it’s all about perception.

A classic example of this this week would be Microsoft’s release of Vista.  For most people, this is a "ho-hum." Why?  Because of the perception they have of Microsoft.  I haven’t heard one PC person say to me at any point over the past month (or even the past several years :-), "I can’t wait to get a copy of Vista."  Now, contrast that with Apple.  Whenever Apple releases a new upgrade to it’s operating system (OS X), there’s incredible build-up and most of the Mac people I know can’t wait to upgrade (even at the cost of about $129 per year).  Why?  Because of the perception.  In general, most people don’t perceive Microsoft as an innovative company (in fact, most of the Microsoft people I know admit that they simply copy what Apple has done).  However, almost everyone perceives Apple to be innovative (i.e. remarkable).  So, the perception really does matter.  And it does matter at the cash register.

Back to you. If you’re going to buy a car this year, how will you decide between Honda or Infiniti or Ford or GM or Jaguar or Mercedes or BMW or VW? If you’re going to go out for dinner this weekend, how will you decide?  If you need to hire a new accountant or lawyer or consultant, how will you decide?  If you’ve moved to a new community and you need to choose a new church or synagogue, how will you choose? If you’re going to buy a new house in a development with homes built by Ryan or Pulte or Winchester or . . . how will you decide?  My guess, is based on the perception you have of that product, service or company. And if that is true of you, what do you think that says about your customers or clients or members? Or if you’re an employer, what does that say to you about becoming an employer of choice (as per last week’s Remarkability Caffeine)?

Perception matters.  Therefore, what can you do to make your company or organization more remarkable?  What can you do to make the perception people have about you and your company more attractive? And what tactics can you employ this year that will cause the people in your target market to want to do business with you because they perceive you are the best one to meet their needs over all of your competitors? If you ask me, those are questions worth asking.

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One Response to “It’s All About Perception (Strategy)”

  1. Eve Sheridan 10 March 2007 at 8:13 am #

    An interesting read about the links between strategy and customer perception….thanks.

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