Archives for posts with tag: Perception

It’s well known that you pay more for branded products than their generic or knock-off equivalents. You get what you pay for, as the saying goes, but also you’re investing in the brand’s equity and goodwill, which comes at a price.

I was in a homeware specialist the other day, looking for an ‘Egg Perfect’, one of those clever things – or clever yolks as the Irish would say, and I like the pun in this context – that you pop into the water with your eggs and it tells you when they’re done to your preference by changing colour.

The price was €9, which I thought was a bit steep, but i’m familiar with the brand and they last ages, so I bought it. On the way home I dropped into a local store that sells almost literally everything. I’ve blogged about it before, in fact. They too had immersive egg timers, the generic versions. The price? €2.

So the branded version was 4-and-a-half times the cost of its imitator, a 350% difference. Which, I suppose, is not as bad as the difference between a Gucci handbag or a Rolex watch and their me too counterparts.

The proof’s in the pudding, so we’ll see how the two of them perform over time. Still, I did feel pained when I saw the €2 version. That’s a difference of about a pint and a half between the two of them.

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I skim-read a fascinating article the other day that covered an interview with former FLOTUS Michelle Obama.

In it, Ms Obama talked about what she described as Imposter Syndrome, the feeling that sooner or later someone’s going to uncover you as someone who’s blagged their way in to position of status or seniority that’s above their station. I hadn’t heard it described that way before but I immediately latched onto it.

Who else feels that from time to time? More accurately, who hasn’t felt in a weak moment that they’re one misstep away from being exposed as a fraud, or at best under-qualified for the role they’re performing?

This is a normal reaction from time to time, normal at least for people who are pushing themselves, moving up the ladder trying new things, joining new groups, doing the one thing every day that slightly scares them. It’s a natural symptom of progress. The first time you step up there’s new things to learn and uncertainty before you get dug in. Then you have to move again before you get too dug in.

It seems too that since the article above others have identified with it and shared their stories, which you can read about here.

There’s nothing like a familiar sound to bring you back and connect you with something.

The other day I heard a wood pigeon coo-cooing somewhere in the estate where I live. It’s not a very familiar sound to me now, but back when I was a kid doing my homework in the bedroom that looked out onto the back garden of my childhood home, it was a very familiar sound. It instantly reconnected me to my past in an unexpected and not unpleasant way.

Sound and the hearing part of our senses have of course always been very important to a brand. We can all remember signature tunes from our favourite shows, programmes and global brands. A few examples: the 4-note signature of the UK’s Channel 4, the 5-note signature of the McDonalds ‘I’m loving it’ campaign, and the ‘Holidays are coming’ refrain from Coca-Cola for around this time of year.

Sounds are a key thread of how we identify with a brand and of the overall brand experience, along with the sights, touches, tastes and smells of the things we like to use or consume. They evoke an instant feeling and connection.

The Irish have a great word: passremarkable. It’s used to describe someone who is wont to pass remarks, usually of a personal nature, about someone or something.

You could say it means being judgemental, but that’s not quite right. It’s having no filter – or choosing to ignore the filter – between thought and speech. You usually associate it with, and I’m generalising considerably here, younger people and older people.

I always avoid being judgemental if I can. And especially being passremarkable. Better to give a feeling or opinion some thought and phrase your comment constructively than blurt out something that will probably offend. What are you hoping to accomplish?

And this, of course, applies in business as well as our personal interactions.

 

Flies looking at the sky the wrong way

It’s the beginning of the second half of the year, a chance to review how the first half went and figure out where we want to be by the end of the second half. A chance to step back for a moment, take stock and ask ourselves if we’re looking at things the right way.

There are lots of business books, concepts and parables to help us do this. One that comes to mind regularly is the parable of the boiled frog from Peter Senge’s book The Fifth Discipline. The story goes that the frog will react to sudden changes, like being dropped into boiling water, but will not notice and respond to gradual changes in temperature if you put it in cooled water which you then heat slowly.

I’d like to offer another parable: the fly in the skylight. We’ve all seen moths round a lamp or flies on a window. They’re both in search of the light. I was reminded of this recently when I noticed the skylight in our sun room. We were enjoying a spell of warm weather and this had drawn a number of flies inside and into the recess containing the skylight. You can probably see them in the picture. The flies can see the sky, their way out or so it seems. They will constantly bang against the skylight, searching for a way out, until they die of exhaustion and lack of food.

Their problem is that they’re looking at the sky the wrong way. They need someone to show them the open window or door lying a few metres away that are 100% better ways for them to get to where they need to go.

So as I embark on the second half of the year, I ask myself this question? Am I choosing the right path for trying to get where I want to go, or am I stuck in the recess, looking at the sky the wrong way and not noticing the glass which blocks my path?

Is it just me or have eyes failed to to keep up? While peace, our understanding of nutrition and farming techniques mean that we are bigger, stronger, faster and we’re living longer than ever before, the eyes don’t appear to have got the message.

Take me for instance. Into my sixth decade, but not by much, I have 3 pairs of glasses. I have a pair for screen-work, phones, laptops, TV and other devices. I have one for driving, because I can see perfectly well into the long range but I can’t read the dashboard numbers and letters. And I have a pair of sunglasses for sunny or bright-light driving and so that I can read prices in shops and books when I’m sitting on a lounger by the pool.

I’ve always had perfect eyesight, except that mid-way through the fifth decade the focal point for close-up work had lengthened to the point where I couldn’t hold a book far away enough or reach the keyboard with the target in focus. From there it’s been regular and expensive trips to the opticians. More pricier than the occasional trip to the physio.

What was life expectancy as recently as a thousand years ago? Half what is is now? The eyes don’t have it any more. We’re living too long and it’s not like we can retrain them like other muscles. I know of no exercise program focused on strengthening the optic nerve and the muscles that control focusing, if indeed they are muscles. All we can do is have corrective surgery in some cases or wear corrective equipment in other.

I’m happy to acknowledge that all my experiences and observations might be coloured by the fact that up close attention to the typed word is my life. I’m both a publisher and consumer of it, for many hours a day, so that may have contributed to the speed of the decline. But even so, if all the magnifying tools in the world disappeared overnight, or I found myself washed up on a deserted island, I would be, to use a crudity, buggered.

Expectation is to my mind very closely linked to perception. It’s like the future tense of perception. What I think about a future event is governing my feelings about it. I might be excited, nervous, mellow or downbeat.

I was reminded of this when I had an apple the other day. I like my apples fresh, with a hard, crisp texture, and a flavoursome but juicy centre. I don’t like them soft, mushy or ‘woody’, as my Dad used to term it. The apple felt firm, I was really looking forward to it and then when I bit, there was a palpable sense of disappointment as I realised it was soft and not particularly nice.

Expectations count for an awful lot, which is why we should manage them with the people and companies we deal with. If we set the expectation as close to the likely reality as we can, they will have a more consistent experience. Better still, we’ll avoid the situation of the phantom where we build demand for something and then annoy our customers if they can’t get what we’re promoting.

Better again, if we can set an expectation that we then exceed, we’re moving the mindset and emotion of the people we’re dealing with in an upward manner, not a downward one.

We can’t stop the ageing process – well I suppose we can if we die, but for me there’s not an easy route back from that. This ageing process means that there will always be someone younger than us, always someone who to us seems really young, always someone to whom we must seem really old. Fact.

I was reminded of this ineluctable fact by a friend of mine, Mr Seamus O’Riordan, whom I caught up with on the phone recently. He was getting his eyes tested not so long ago and bemoaning the fact that it was time to embrace the world of reading glasses, the consequences of which were that people might get a reminder of his reaching a ‘certain age’, to adapt from the gloriously euphemistic French phrase.

‘Well,’ his optician rejoined, ‘I’m 65. You seem really young to me.’ A rather sobering postscript to this is that the older gentleman died a few months later.

It’s all relative. It all depends on your perspective.

So what do we do about it? Two things:

  1. Live for the moment, and
  2. Look after ourselves, so we remain young in body, young in mind, young at heart
The Power of Personalisation

The Power of Personalisation

I received this email in my web mail inbox the other day – and I loved it, both as an individual recipient and consumer of email and as a marketer.

There’s nothing new in it, and I won’t be able to convert my interest in action as I live in another country and can’t easily attend games.

That said, for me it epitomises the power of personalisation. Both the subject line and the quoted phrase are redolent of sporting chants, as well as pandering to my ego. The email is visually appealing, the strapline appeals to me as a fan – and a customer – who can make the telling contribution to success, and the ask is a simple one: we’d like you as a season ticket holder.

Superb stuff. Of course, I don’t know how the email turned out. I don’t know too much about the target demographic. I am willing to bet, however, that it performed particularly well against target.

It was Tom Peters who said that ‘perception is all there is’. I’ve talked about this quote before, and its importance, but for me there’s something also inviolably true, and it’s a bit like the other side of the coin.

Perspective is all there is, too. Perspective is your perception of the world, and, more importantly, someone else’s or something else’s perspective. I was reminded of this in the most mundane way recently. Having made myself a cup of tea, I was bringing a soggy tea bag over to the bin, supported by a spoon and, under it, my free hand to catch the drips. The spoon looked full of tea in the side I could see, so I tilted it away slightly. As I tilted it away, it dripped tea from the side I couldn’t see, which was obviously fuller, or at least as full, as ‘my’ side. I hadn’t checked the other side.

It always pays to try and understand the perspective of the other person, in a transaction, in politics, in pretty much anything. Once you get their perspective, you get the wisdom to agree with them, or the ammunition to persuade them to agree with you.