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Mixed Messages: Examining perceptions

mixedmessages

I have fond memories of visiting the dentist as a child because 1) I had no cavities to worry about and 2) he always had Highlights magazine in the waiting room. My favorite feature was “What’s Wrong with this Picture”: Two seemingly identical cartoons were side-by-side and you had to find the differences between the two. You could feel something wasn’t just right, but it took careful scrutiny to pick out the details that made the difference.

In our daily business lives, we may be so over-scheduled taking care of operations that we don’t make time to scrutinize our brand. What our audience thinks or says about the brand may not match the image we intend to project. Something is wrong with this picture.

So, grab a cup of coffee or tea—I have an exercise for you:

  • First, list five things people say about you. This is going to require getting actual input from customers, stakeholders or others who have access to your brand. Whether you hire a brand consultant or take a more informal approach, such as reading reviews posted online, combing through customer feedback or providing online surveys, capture their actual comments and perceptions—not your assumptions.
  • Meanwhile, list 5 essential concepts you want to project about your brand.

Unless you have been devoted to managing your brand, chances are you will discover a gap…maybe even a chasm. So, what can you do to close the gap?

  • Clarify. Revisit the goals you have for your business and your brand. Define your brand personality. Refine your core messages. Then, communicate internally, so everyone is on the same page.
  • Understand your value. Be sure you are clear on the unmet need you satisfy for your clients. Is your focus where it needs to be? Speaking to clients’ needs opens the conversation for other products or services you offer and paves the path for an on-going relationship.
  • Show, don’t tell. Promote examples of solutions you have provided for satisfied customers. Make it is easier for your audience to see your sweet spot and to position you as the expert in what you do.

Clarifying the conversation your brand has with your target audience will prevent the confusion and missed opportunities that come from mixed messages. Confused prospects don’t buy. Make it a regular practice to examine perceptions about your business to make sure your brand clearly communicates the value it provides.

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