How Your Prospects Perceive You Is Everything!
Customer perception is a marketing term all business owners should understand. It refers to what a prospect (potential customer) or existing customer thinks and feels about your brand and what you sell. In the words of one of my marketing buddies, “Perception is reality in the marketplace.”We each have our own perceptions about everything we come into contact with, and everything that happens to us. Click To Tweet Here's a great example of how a person's perceptions color their actions. One day when I was walking the beach I spotted a horseshoe crab, alive, on the sand. It's rare to find a live one on the beach, so I took a picture of it and posted it on Facebook. A few hours later I saw that many people had commented about the picture, and not one person had the same perception as anyone else.
- Oh, how cool!
- Stay away from that thing, it will hurt you!
- Are you going to drain it for the blue blood?
- It's not a horseshoe crab, it's a stingray!
- That's the strangest thing I've ever seen!
- Horseshoe crabs have been around for 300 million years!
- What? I've never even heard of these!
- Oh, these are common to see.
- This thing is weird and prehistoric.
- They certainly have a very low water resistance coefficient.
The reactions and perceptions included fear, curiosity, analysis, boredom, and denial. What does this have to do with marketing your offers? You will get the very same difference in perceptions and reactions every single time you make an offer. Your goal is to be successful in your marketing, and to do that well you need these three things:
- A very clear, easily grasped description of what you are selling.
- Copy that helps educate your potential buyer about what it is she is buying and the benefits of it.
- Copy that seeks to overcome objections.
Customer perception assigns a reputation to your business, right or wrongWhether you are a newer business or an older business, your brand has a reputation. Click To Tweet In fact, you may have several different reputations – some people have heard of you negatively, and some positively. You know how your friends talk about their shopping experiences? If you listen you will find that each business has a reputation among your friends for being friendly, or hard to deal with about returns, or hard to get to because of traffic – all of these things are customer perceptions. They have a lot to do with whether your friends will buy a second time from a business, and even whether some of your friends will ever buy from that business ever!
Here's an example. When coronavirus hit, almost all travel in the world was shut down, and many people had trips fully paid for which they were unable to take. Depending on what company you purchased your trip from you either got decent service and a refund, or months later you still had not received a dime. Travel advisors know from their refund experiences which companies have acted honorably and in a timely manner, and which took the opportunity to keep their customer's money and offer no refunds. As a result, there are now many travel advisors with “no sale” lists – they won't again purchase travel from companies who refused refunds. The perception of those travel companies is very poor, and their sales are going to suffer for many years in the future. On the other hand, travel companies who treated travel advisors and their clients well are finding that they are getting busier again much faster. The customer perception of those brands is positive.
People project their own perceptions, assumptions, needs, and fears onto anything they come into contact with. It could be a horseshoe crab or one of your offers. It doesn't matter how straightforward, plain, and simple your offer is. It will always be perceived differently by different customers and prospects.
Large companies sometimes spend a lot of money trying to figure out and then change the perceptions their customers have. Perceptions impact overall brand reputation as well as each specific offer your business makes. This is one reason that companies seek out recommendations and testimonials from past customers – they know that your customer perceptions can be influenced and changed by others who have purchased. Customer perception is the backbone of the influencer industry.
Related article: How To Write a Long Copy Sales Letter Step by Step
How to find out customer perceptions of your business
If you are curious to know what your customers think and feel about your business you can ask.
- Ask for feedback after a purchase (you can set up an online survey)
- Ask for a review or testimonial
- Use a poll on social media (unless your customers are on that social platform this won't work, and it isn't my recommendation for a small business)
- Call the customer directly and ask a few specific questions
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