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Perception Vs. Reality In Digital Marketing

Perception Vs. Reality In Digital Marketing

Last week, one of my buddies got a call from his girlfriend. It went a little something like this…

“Hey bae, I saw the CUTEST kitty cat rummaging through the trash bags outside work, and I just HAD to bring him home. He’s SUPER sweet and you’re going to love him, I promise!”

Don’t worry, this is totally relevant to marketing.

Now, my friend really likes cats. Well, a hell of a lot more than I do, anyway. He already HAS a cat, though. So this cat had better:

  • A: Get along with the first cat;
  • B: Generally not be a nuisance and tear up my friend’s apartment;
  • And C: Not carry Feline Immunovirus or fleas or some rare, uncurable tropical disease.

His girl talked this cat up for a good 30 minutes on her ride home, planting the seed in my buddy’s mind that Mittens was going to be a great addition to their household. At first skeptical, now he was on-board—his perception was formed.

Long story short, the new cat was a disaster. It pissed everywhere, clawed up his sofa, fought with the first cat, and generally acted like an asshole.

You can bet my friend booted that pest to the animal shelter like his life depended on it.

Part of the reason this renegade feline didn’t get a second chance is because it totally went against my buddy’s initial perception of the situation. Had his girlfriend talked about adopting a “project” from an animal shelter—a cat that needed some work, an animal that might have been abused or abandoned—then MAYBE his stay might have lasted longer than two days.

When you’re already on the fence about something—whether that’s accepting a derelict, vagabond cat into your house OR deciding which brand of miter saw to buy, congruence between perception and reality are critical.

Marketing – Substance = Buyer’s Remorse

On the marketing side of things (I promised this would be relevant), our perception is a mixture of advertising, testimonials, word of mouth, and whether a company’s claims pass our own bullshit detectors.

For businesses and marketers, conquering sales resistance is all about making people view your product or service in a favorable light, to generate the perception that YOU’RE the go-to choice to meet their needs.

That’s the first part of the equation, and it’s not that hard to do if you put a little effort into marketing.

But then there’s this thing called buyer’s remorse. It’s a negative mixture of emotions that results when a customer’s perception is challenged by the reality of their purchase. Buyer’s remorse isn’t just the bane of big-ticket items like cars or marketing fees, either.

Buyer’s remorse is what drives customers to demand refunds, leave bad reviews, tell their friends to stay away from your company, and generally make it very, very difficult for your business to STAY in business. But instead of waiting for and reacting to buyer’s remorse, how can we avoid it in the first place?

Like I said, customers become unhappy when their perception of your product/service/business is nothing like what you actually deliver.

Pretend you’re a mechanic and you advertise 30-minute oil changes, the kind people can grab while they’re on a lunch break. Except, when people actually head to your shop, it usually takes you an hour to change their oil.

It doesn’t matter if you give them a free inspection and car wash at this point—you aren’t delivering on your promise of 30-minute service. Reality isn’t matching expectations, and those people probably aren’t coming back.

So if it isn’t humanly possible for your team to change oil in 30 minutes, why promise it? Instead, focus your sales message on “oil changes with a FREE car wash.” THAT you can do.

Marketing + Quality = Profit

The key takeaway is that advertising can’t ever be a substitute for substance. It will only work for so long, because marketing without honesty is just called scamming, plain and simple.

Everyone is looking for online marketing secrets. The “secret” is that there is no secret. The best factors for success are having a business that really helps people, and finding a way to market that business so the RIGHT people can find you and buy from you.

It’s that simple. You don’t need sleazy sales letters or sensationalist blog headlines or clickbait email campaigns. You just need to bust your ass and make a difference for people…and make sure they notice.

That’s what great marketers do.

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I'm Nick and I have an uncanny obsession with words. I live, breathe, and even eat words (alphabet cereal) all day, everyday. I’m here to plan and execute winning content campaigns, backed by handpicked writing talent from every industry you can imagine. I make words work overtime.

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