Many years ago, I was sitting in a meeting of a client discussing what to do for their first anniversary. This client was a brewpub (then a hot, new concept) in a warehouse entertainment district and all the club’s managers, owners, and investors were present. One of the options being considered was to hold a concert, either in the brewpub or outside in their parking lot. And one of the acts being considered was Van Morrison. This would have been quite a coup for the club as, at the time, Van the Man wasn’t touring much and wanted what few shows he was doing in support of his new album to be in smaller venues.
The show’s asking price somehow fit into the meager budget and, needless to say, I figured this was a no-brainer, done deal. (WARNING: Gratuitous Dream Sequence Approaching!) Immediately my mind began racing with thoughts of Wild Nights with the Brown Eyed Girl who would be ever so grateful for the backstage pass that I would inevitably bestow upon her. Plus, this would be my entrée into the world of rock and roll and, from now on, my business card title would be “Rock and Roll Promoter” (which, you must admit, is much sexier than “Non-Poet Copywriter”).
My Moondance as the burgeoning Bill Graham of the Bible Belt quickly ended when one of the investors spoke out. I don’t recall his exact words, but it was something to the effect of, “I saw that movie about him, and all the drugs and drinking he did, and I don’t want that kind of element here.” I was too stunned to respond and shocked even further when no one argued this assertion and, without further debate, rejected the opportunity to have Van Morrison play their anniversary celebration. When I gathered my senses, the only movie I could recall Van Morrison appearing in was as a performer in The Last Waltz, the film documenting the The Band‘s final performance. And when I had the opportunity to ask the investor (an older man, then in his 60’s) what movie he was talking about, he said, “That Oliver Stone movie that was out a couple years ago.” It wasn’t until later that I realized he was referring to The Doors, Oliver Stone’s overindulgent chronicle of The Doors and their lead singer Jim Morrison, who did indeed live a drug and alcohol fueled lifestyle…before his death in 1971 (which was vaguely featured at the end of the film)…
So what does any of this have to do with advertising? It’s all about perception! Remember that everything you do to market your business should be about influencing your customer’s perception. Whether it’s demonstrating that you offer the solution to their problem, convincing them you’ve got the best price and service, or just positioning your brand as one consumers can trust, the impression you make today can go a long way toward enhancing how your customers view you, your business, or your goods or services, tomorrow. As the story above demonstrated, one bad perception, even an incorrect perception, can carry quite a ways, since a customer with a negative impression of a business will tell far more people about their experience than those who hold you in a positive light.
Another part of influencing your customers’ perceptions is addressing their objections. Consider what’s keeping them from patronizing your business or buying your product and tailor your message accordingly, whether it’s via Twitter, television, radio, banner ad, and yes, even newspaper. By resolving their objections, you can more easily display how you provide the solution, and thus enhance your customer’s perception.
Finally, remember that your brand is your image, and your image is how you’re perceived. And, though many people balk at the cost of marketing their business, know that the price of attaining and maintaining a positive perception is a fraction of what you’ll have to spend to repair a negative perception. Need an example? Two letters: BP.
As my story exemplified, one negative image (Jim Morrison) can overpower a positive, but lower profile image of someone else (Van Morrison). That’s why your image, your brand, and how it’s perceived is so important. And if the perception of your brand is perceived as an unknown soldier then you might want to do some marketing that can light my fire!