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Which is more important to your success; who you are, or who other people think you are? It’s an interesting question that sparked a lot of debate recently. On one side “it matters who your potential clients think you are” and on the other side “you must be true to yourself”. What’s the answer?

Polar bear showing how perception is reality

Perception is reality

There’s an old saying, “perception is reality” and perhaps that’s never more relevant than in modern society where people (like it or not) form opinions in an instant. Those opinions may be formed simply from your Twitter photo, profile or a tweet with 140 characters. The perception may become reality from many other things.

The polar bear

It’s an old story (and perhaps the video below tells it better), but I always liked it.

A baby polar bear approached his mum…

“Mummy, mummy, I don’t think I’m a polar bear”

“Of course you are son, you’ve got great big polar bear fur”

“Yes, but mummy, I still don’t think I’m a polar bear”

“Of course you are son, you’ve got great big polar paws”

Unconvinced the child wanders off muttering (haven’t you ever seen that!). Despite clear (to his mother) signs, he still doesn’t think he’s a polar bear. He approaches daddy bear.

“Daddy, daddy, I don’t think I’m a polar bear”

“Of course you are son, you’ve got great big polar bear claws to help you catch other animals”

“No Daddy, I still don’t think I’m a polar bear”

“Of course you are son, you’ve got great big polar teeth to rip into your food

“But Daddy, I can’t be a polar bear, I’m c c c c c cold”

Apologies for the silly story, but whatever evidence you think is relevant might not persuade the other person.

What’s the perception of you and your profession?

  • Step 1: There are many things you need to do when marketing yourself and your firm, but a common thing to consider is the way in which your target audience considers your profession. But this is only the first step.
  • Step 2: The second step is to understand what makes your target audience think differently about others in your profession, which might be as simple as the bear feeling cold. No matter how much you talk about your 35 years of experience, and memberships of professional bodies (or whatever you consider to be your “proof” e.g. teeth, claws and paws), others may think differently.

I recently asked many people what they thought of the accounting industry and what signs they used so they knew that somebody wasn’t a typical accountant. Typically cloud accounting and using modern marketing methods were the answers.

Setting out a clear niche will always help, demonstrating your expertise will always help, but how are you perceived?

What would persuade your target audience and what will you do?

 
Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Networking is a key part of getting great results in small firms. If you want great networking tips sent to your desk once a month, click here and I will start sending them to you, so you can make a real difference to your referrals. 
 
Photo used under creative commons licence. For more information, click here.