Perception is Reality

Every aspect of my professional life is based on the above statement.

It comes down to “is reality real”?

A great question and one that you can have answered (or not) by watching many different movies, like The Matrix, Terminator, DreamScape, or Xmen or whatever meets your fancy – but, it all comes down to “are we really living in this world or is there something else out there that is more real?”

But, you look at today’s media (which is ALL about marketing), and you get the spin – and you can see the control that the media has on the masses. I do hope that you look at what you do and realize that you have the same influence as well as the same power. Of course, with this comes the issue of abuse (which is a whole other book, so, we will skip that for now).

If you can get people to believe that

  1. a) what they “think” is possibly real to
  2. b) it “is” real, then
  3. c) you can change a complete market and what they believe.

Let me rephrase that (so you aren’t as confused as I am):

  1. some people “think” that the earth is heating up,
  2. take them to Alaska and show them a shrinking glacier (and now it “is” real that the earth is heating up – their perception has either changed to something new or it has been validated),
  3. bring them back to where they live and the revolution begins.

Another example, at a web company I worked for, we were just moving along, no great increase in revenue, no decrease, just, status quo – even though the mandate was to grow by 200% in one year.

 Everyone tried everything (they knew) to grow. We didn’t do to well.

 So, we started thinking about the perception in the internet market about who uses the internet and who will pay for it. We knew that there was a huge untapped market out there, the Hispanic market, that had money, but, we didn’t know how much they would spend OR if they would even want internet capability.

 But what did we have to lose?

 We copied everything we had to Hispanic; put out marketing and communication materials saying “The Hispanic market is scooping this up as fast as we can make it available”, even though it really wasn’t true,(the start of the revolution – i.e. people believing that they needed this web company if they were Hispanic).

 My point is – we immediately started telling everyone that the “reality” was that the Hispanic market already accepted this and was using it and you better get on the boat or you are going to be left behind.

Another example: a new product that no one had ever conceived of, let alone knew what use it was for was given to me to launch throughout the world. I couldn’t do it like I did the web service, as no one had ever heard of this new product (again, so new, everyone asked “what do I use it for” – compared to, let’s say, an internet service provider, everyone knows what they do, it comes down to what you get for the dollar).

 I went through the traditional marketing checklist, from putting out a press release or advertising (which I couldn’t do saying “Look, everyone is using it, because everyone wants it” – when, again, everyone would ask, “what the h**l am I going to do with that?”)

 It really had to be a grass roots thing. Which, we see today in a lot of marketing campaigns, where “word of mouth” makes the marketing happen (where people are hired to mention products on blogs or people to go to bars and give out samples, etc.)

 Pretty much do a “red herring” – give the product away (we wrapped every one of our products in a $20 bill (this is how I say it, because we discounted the product by 80%).  This allowed a few huge companies to take a “risk” (we even agreed to buy the product back if they didn’t sell it (or ) and “see” what would happen.

 Once we had the companies lined up (okay, it was really only one company – but, hey, the name IBM is a nice name to have stand behind your product), I then moved to the next level of my marketing strategy.

 Of getting people to start talking about it, analysts endorsed it, and a few more companies got into it (because they saw IBM get into it).  And this was with VERY FEW SALES occurring.

It went on from there – so many companies wanted to “see” it and take a “risk”, that everyone wanted a piece – now, many people have it and many people use it (but, more have it then use it, lol – that’s what’s great about a commodity).

 Okay, you want to know the product?  It is one of my proudest achievements – to take a company and product that no one knew, had gross revenue of $20M, and leave them five years later, with a $600M revenue stream (and bought by another company) …it is a USB Flash Drive, or thumbdrive, or diskonkey, or whatever – you know, the little 128MB or 2GB USB thingy that you store files on.

I remember presenting the strategy on how I was going to make this product a world wide commodity to the CEO and CFO of the company. I ended my presentation with the statement “I am going to do this by making peoples perception about this product into reality”.

 The CFO asked, “What do you mean?”

 I replied “I am going to put this product everywhere, so that everyone believes (perceives) that this product is the hottest thing, that they must have it, that everyone wants (reality) this item, that is why it is everywhere”.

 They both replied that there is no such thing as “perception is reality” and that my strategy will never work.

 Thank G*D for my BU’s GM – (for those of us that don’t and can’t keep up with all of the acronyms out there – that is: Business Unit’s General Manager) – who stood behind me for almost two years and told the CEO and CFO to get out of the way and let me do the job – thank you!!! In that time, we topped $100M in sales.

 Today, I ask the CEO if he believes if Perception is Reality – and he always replies “Never had a doubt”.

The following pages are based on those words – perception is reality. Keep that in mind as you read each point – as that is where I am coming from. You can be losing a $1M a month or making $1B a month, and it still comes down to what does the outside world “think” you are – their perception, because that is the only reality that there is.

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