Imagine you are participating in a reality show. You are going on a blind date for the first time. The show organisers have chosen your blind date from 5000 entries. You are super excited.
When you meet your date, you find her very attractive. You are keen to to continue to date her after the show. And then you over-hear one of the crew members who says how hard it was to convince even one girl to come on the show. Now does that change your perception of the girl? Of course it does.
Or you have watched the whole Bachelor season where 25 girls are competing to marry a multi-millionaire. Only in the end, the show reveals that the bachelor is not the owner of a chain of hotels; he is just a bartender on low wages and high debt. Does that change the way you think of the man? Sure it does.
Or when the hot hunk you were fantasising at your workplace turns out to be gay?
Haven’t you seen a toothpaste advertisement where a model wearing a surgeon’s white overcoat recommends a specific brand of toothpaste for healthy teeth? You see, you know at a conscious level that he is an actor, not a dentist. But your subconscious mind thinks it is a dentist’s recommendation. That’s what the advertiser relies on to get their message to you.
We often rely on experts, or authority figures to form our opinion about sports, politics, products and everything else in life. Marketing is about this perception.
As a marketer or a salesman, your success depends on how you influence this perception, how you manage this perception.
And the good news is: you can manage such perceptions.
These perceptions relate to many aspects of your product or service. In fact, every single interaction of your product or service influences the way it is perceived by your customer.
However, there are three main perception factors:
- The product – its features and benefits
- The price – how much does it cost
- Delivery – packaging, promotion, distribution, physical delivery and after-sales.
You can influence how your product or service is perceived by comparing it with competition. Car rental company, Avis, re-established itself with its advertising campaign – “Avis Is Only Number Two; So We Try Harder.”
Or you can create perception of superior value by underlining a benefit that no one else is offering and creating a perception of uniqueness. For example, FedEx offered a benefit that no one else did at that time – guaranteed overnight delivery “or you’ll automatically receive a zero dollar invoice”.
Second perception factor is price. Telemarketers and now Internet marketers use this technique effectively. They describe a benefit of their product and attach a dollar value to it. Then they put another layer of benefit on top of that and attach a value tag to it.
Once many benefits are stacked up, the dollar value is all added up. Then they ask you: “How much would you pay for it?” When the dollar value is put at $999 or $1999, that’s what you expect to pay.
Then they reveal the offer price – $199. Now $199 is obviously perceived to be a bargain.
That’s the third factor. Here I am referring not only to the physical delivery but all other aspects of your product – packaging, promotion and advertising, delivery and after-sales. A product delivered by express courier is perceived to be more valuable than one delivered by ordinary mail. A product advertised in the national newspaper is perceived to be better than one in a community newspaper. Product being promoted by a well-designed flyer printed in four-colour on a glossy paper is perceived be the superior to the one sold using a photocopied flyer. The list goes on.
In summary, marketing is about managing all these perceptions. In that sense, it is not very different to dating – all you need is the art of managing perceptions.