11/17/2014 01:33 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Perceptionism: How Are You Being Perceived?

Walking down a busy New York City street with a dear friend a month ago, I spied a guy dressed in expressively colorful clothes coming towards us, singing out loud as music blasts in his ears. My friend whispered, "What a funny character". "Maybe we are the funny characters' I whispered back. It's all about perception. Last time I looked there was no rulebook about how to walk the streets or dress (OK, I've never looked - maybe there is one, but we don't need it). Of course there are certain common perceptions in society about how we do certain things and most people conform to those.

In this guy's world, there is nothing weird or wrong about walking the streets the way he does. I like that.

"There is no truth. There is only perception." Gustave Flaubert

Everything in business and life is perception.perceptionism in your market. It is our job as entrepreneurs and business owners to create the right perception about our businesses in our target market's mind so they want to work with us. They will form a perception either way so we might as well choose it!

The first step to use perceptionism (I made that word up, although I did find someone had used it before after I googled it. Bummer!) to your advantage is to figure out how you want your business (or you) to be perceived by people.

A great exercise is to answer the question: How do I want to be perceived? Or: How do I want my business to be perceived?

When you answer that question think of your business as if it was a person. How would you describe him or her? Use adjectives such as adventurous, cheeky, funny, courageous, conservative, old, young, fresh, honest, trustworthy, safe, raw, generous, smart...

Once you are clear on how you want to be perceived, look at every aspect of your business, including your branding, the way you are greeting people on the phone or face to face, how you respond to emails, your premises, the look and feel of your marketing materials and then make sure they are all reinforcing the perception you want to create. If some parts of your business are painting a different picture, your clients and prospects will get confused and confusion never sells.

Also make sure your team is across your desired business perception and get them on board. They need to help you create that perception.

Since perceptionism is one of my all-time favourite things to think, talk and write about, we've got a new book coming out early next year that is all about exactly that. Stay tuned for the release!

Perception-ally yours,