Tom Peters is the creator of what for me is one of the most insightful quotes in all of commercial history.

He wrote that ‘Perception is all there is.’ Is there anything truer and more important in marketing? It doesn’t matter what the reality is, what really matters is how people see and interpret that reality. The advent of the online world, which has increased our ability to transact remotely without face-to-face meetings where we can judge things like tone and body language, has brought this fact into sharper focus still.

Of course, companies with this knowledge can choose one of two paths. They can work hard to influence the prospect customer’s perception of their products and services in a positive and accurate way. Or, they can seek to alter their perception to one that is at variance with reality. In other words, they can mislead.

Fortunately, the Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away. Customers who find themselves on the unhappy end of a transaction can take to social media to vent their spleen and positively influence both the company and their target audience.

The Internet is all about perception, but it’s also all about immediacy and transparency.  Which is nice.