Strategy & Marketing

Why Your Perception Matters

Whenever we talk about a personal “brand,” a significant part of that conversation is about perception. What do people think of when they think of you? I encountered two friends the other day in New York that illustrate the idea very well. Both are terrific vocal coaches – in fact they were business partners early in their career. But for whatever reason, a number of years ago they decided to
split up and go their separate ways. They were both very talented and stayed friends.

As I mentioned, they both were extremely good vocal coaches, and had each worked with numerous stars in the industry, helping train their voices for their latest CD, Broadway musical, or rock show. But when they went different ways, something interesting happened.

One had a really good understanding of his talent, so he rightly knew that because of his reputation, students would start coming. So he set up his studio and waited.
But while the other also understood his talent, he was much more proactive about his career. He started networking in the industry. He would attend music conferences, go to parties, movie screenings, and other events where music industry people attended. It was difficult – especially with his student schedule – but he really “worked the room.” He decided that he needed to continually fashion his perception as a remarkable vocal coach.

Now, a number of years since their separation, they couldn’t be more different. The first is struggling, living in a rented apartment, trying to do extra jobs to make ends meet, and having a really tough time. But the other partner is at the top of his game. He’s busy, has enough clients to turn some away, and has the opportunity to work with the best recording artists in the business.

So what’s the difference? Both are incredibly talented. Both are great guys. Both are still friends. How did their careers take such different paths?

Because of perception. While one just sat there and allowed others to create their perception (or brand story) about who he was, the second, created his own story. He knew that if he didn’t help create his own perception, he would spend the rest of his career at the mercy of others who would.

In the competitive world we live in today, talent is never enough. It’s up to you to create the story that surrounds you. Be the very best you can be, but those that realize success today, take that extra step of understanding the importance of perception.

Because in a media driven culture, it’s not just who you are, but how you’re perceived that matters.

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  1. amen

    marketing is the art and science of managing perception — if we don’t do it for ourselves (our personal brand) we have no one to blame but ourselves, and how can our clients (or boss) trust us to build their brands?

  2. THANK YOU PHIL! I have been dealing with this issue myself. I’m naturally introverted, so sometimes it takes extra energy for me to “work the room.” Yet, I’ve noticed that when I do, things work out very well. I know I’ve been blessed with gifts and talents, but my mentality (in the past) has been to “build and wait.” As a result, I’ve had a measure of success, but not to the level that is needed. By making changes, recently, more opportunities are opening up to put my production, speaking/teaching and writing skills into practice.

    Your post paints a vivid picture to help me and others “get it” and to be able to step out further in faith. There are many, like myself, who deal with the issue of not wanting to be a shameless promotor of themselves. Posts like this one helps us to better discern the difference. There is a balance that seperates shameless promotion from a genuine establishing of a strong reputation. It does take a proactive approach to make an impact in the lives of others. Thanks again for this clear illustration.

    Allen Paul Weaver III
    author, Transition: Breaking Through the Barriers

  3. Phil, thank you for continually sharing this type of information and reminding and telling us in various ways the important concepts.

    The 'product' quality is important, but if know one knows about it, knows the story or even hears about it, what good will it do? All of these pieces have to fall into place.

    Thanks again and God bless!

  4. Great post. I'll add that attitude is important too. If you don't see, feel, and act like your story, it will never really matter. It's good to create a story, but a true story will always last.

  5. Phil,

    Thanks for the encouraging word.  I'm the Media Minister at a large SBC church in Jacksonvile who is going through transisition with a fairly new pastor.  Our Media team is going through your book called, "Creative Christian Media"  This book is literally changing the way we think and learning to become Producers with opinions that matter.  We are in the middle of changing our brand and how the community views us.  How we view ourselves and how the community views aren't the same.  We're in the middle of looking at creating focus groups to look at our image.

      Thank you for the work you do with churches. 


  6. I would really recommend "Branding Faith" now that you're in that process.  And make sure your pastor reads it as well. It will totally change his thinking and make your life much easier…   🙂

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