You Are Not Worried Enough about Perceptions and Assumptions

change-perceptions-stop-assumptions
Google defines:

  • Judging as “to form an opinion or conclusion about”.
  • Assumptions as “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof”.
  • Perceptions as “a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.”

Keep these words and definitions in mind.

Humans Judge

This is a fact you cannot ignore and how people judge and/or stereotype is based on several factors, including social norms, past experiences, self-worth, desires and needs.

Humans also evaluate and categorize everything they encounter; it is just the way the brain works. Examples:

  • Good or bad?
  • Fun or boring?
  • Ugly or pretty?
  • Helpful or harmful?
  • Desirable or disgusting?

So, as a marketer if you know that the human brain is going to automatically judge / stereotype / categorize you need to take this into account when planning websites, marketing strategies, sales techniques, social media and content marketing. What negative judgments can you combat with words and images?

Be thinking about how your audiences begin to understand/perceive your product or service and then be ready to influence their judgments and assumptions.

Perception is Everything

confusedWhen people see something or are approached by someone the brain automatically starts categorizing and deciding if the item or person is desirable to them or not.

Just think about you being in a store and looking at an item, how many different categories go through your head? What makes you decide to look closer or walk away?

Whenever you are doing any form or marketing or design you have to be focused on perception:

  • How does someone begin to understand your product/service?
  • How they will interpret what you are trying to get across?
  • What MENTAL IMPRESSION do you want to leave them with?!
  • What perceptions will make your product or service desirable.

SOCIAL MEDIA FOLKS and Marketers – learn about positive and negative connotations!

The words you use are quickly perceived and judged and assumptions are made. Your brand can be seen as caring, helpful or rude based on words alone! Check out these exercises to understand how simple words can hurt or help your brand and/or the work you provide.

Personas and Perceptions

Really examine your customer personas to determine what words, designs or images could be perceived in a positive or negative manner. Which way do you want to influence people? Depending on your message you could want either a positive or negative perception.

Examples:

1). You have a great product that is perfect for young families, but all your display ads show an image of an older couple. The words on the ad don’t match the image. What is the viewer going to think?

The image alone has already defeated you. Your product is for old people.

2). You are a plumber and your local competitors suck at their job; you do it right. What negative image could you combine with words like “Choosing the Wrong Plumber Can Lead to Disaster!”?

Negative image and words, but often businesses that do this are perceived as trustworthy by many because people actually believe the company that warns them of a potential problem actually cares! Perceptions turn into assumptions.

Assumptions – They Can Kill Sales

The assumption definition above said “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof”. Potential customers make assumptions all the time, and so do business owners!

If you know that people will quickly make assumptions, based on their perceptions, you can plan ahead to avoid the assumptions that will kill your sales/conversions!

Examples:

1). You build beautiful, custom entertainment centers and wall units. Your website shows images from beautiful homes, restaurants and more. It is clear your work is outstanding, but what assumptions might be made? How about an assumption that you are not affordable?

The truth is many people can get some custom work done for the same price or cheaper than going out and buying furniture. Who knew that? Not me! I bought the furniture! Tell people custom building is truly affordable – smash the assumption.

2). A business owner has a website, but they don’t feel it is worth investing in a newer look because the current one is working just fine. A comparison of analytical data versus sales from the web shows your site is not really converting. Possible assumptions made?

Here is the feedback I have gotten from web users: 

  • The site is old and they don’t have the money to get a new one, therefore they must not be good at what they do.
  • They don’t care about how their company looks online, so will they even care about the service they provide me?
  • They like to service old people. (shocked by this one)
  • Can’t find the normal features I am used to so will go to a site that has them.

The best way to squash these assumptions is to invest in a better website. Another option, find a way with images, words and features to influence perceptions (before assumptions are made). I think in the long run a new website is the smarter and cheaper way to go.

Marketers – Focus on Influencing Perceptions and Changing Assumptions!

Every design you make, every image you choose and every word you write needs to take the possible perceptions and assumptions that might be made, by each persona, into account.

The goal is to come across as positive as possible to influence sales. What perceptions and possible assumptions can you change from the start?

About Melissa Fach

AuthorityLabs Community Jedi - Melissa Fach is the owner of SEOAware, LLC that specializes in consulting and training businesses. She is also the Community Jedi at AuthorityLabs, an associate on the Community Team at Moz, a past Editor of Search Engine Journal and a big cat volunteer. You can find her on Twitter @SEOAware.

Filed under: Featured, Strategy

2 Comments

vincent barr

This is an important topic for conversion rate optimization and content, and especially for design and experience.

The contribution of sensible design and user experience decisions aren’t always immediate. Nonetheless, their effects are pervasive and – as you said – we take mental shortcuts to process, store, and recall information. In other words, we judge a book by its cover.

The impact of subtle design and experience decisions can be hard to measure, even with usability tests, task completion rate, and all of those great metrics.

Subtle design decisions are what gain our trust, keep our attention, encourage us to explore, and lead to our second visit. The product works as it should. We don’t ask questions.

When you decide not to sweat the details, then you decide to neglect responsibility for how your product is perceived.

When you skip card sorting or taxonomy, you allow confusion to enter; you break trust and introduce frustration. I assume you’re not all that sharp, or maybe you’re short on resources.

When you break promises, and turn what I thought was a click leading me to a PDF into a click leading me to a 3-step form, I resent that. Use a form like a trapdoor and I think you’re a thief, or one in training. Formfuzzer to the rescue, at best.

When you lack form validation, I might not bother scrolling back to the top of the form, finding my mistake, and correcting it if it’s not obvious. Mistakes introduce overhead, anxiety, and slow decision time.

Luis

I´m afraid the real problem is just the opposite. People cares way too much about perception. This causes fear and makes them to try to imitate or just follow what others are saying or doing. People should FORGET about perceptions and try to be as genuine as possible!

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