Perception: How to become the first choice in your industry


By Franziska Iseli

‘I’m spending all this time and money on marketing but nothing is working!’

This is a common sentiment in the business world. It makes me sad to see small business owners exhausting their resources (and sanity) by spending money on stuff that doesn’t give them a great return.

One of the main reasons why a lot of marketing isn’t working as well as it could is because of perception.  

Consciously crafting the perception others have of you and your business is equally as important as is selecting the right marketing channels.

It is truly our responsibility as business owners to control how people view our businesses, products or services.

It doesn’t really matter if you’ve been in business for a few decades or a few days. The same principles apply to becoming the first choice in your industry.

There are three steps in this process:

1. Choose your perception

Firstly, you choose how you want to be perceived. Yep, it really is a choice! If you don’t determine how your product, service or business is going to be perceived, someone else will and it might not be ideal.

I’ve got two questions for you to determine your business’ (and your own!) image.

The first one is ‘How do you want your business to be perceived?’

This will help you define your brand’s personality, which forms the basis of influencing the perception others have of your business.

When describing your business use adjectives (descriptive words) such as young, old, fresh, modern, adventurous, safe, cheeky, energetic, vibrant, fast. The less conventional the better, so aim to stay away from common words such as professional, quality, experienced.

Once you’ve figured out your brand personality, let’s go to the second question: ‘What do we want to be known for?’ or ‘what do you want your clients to remember you for?’

Narrow it down to one or two things. Imagine you meet someone at a party and he tells you ten things. You’ll most likely only remember one or two (depending on how many glasses of wine you’ve had of course!). Some brand examples include safety (think Volvo), happiness (think Walt Disney), creativity, innovation (think Apple).

Make sure you share the above with your team so they are all on board and pulling in the same direction. Your team members are your biggest brand ambassadors.

2. Differentiate and blow your customers’ minds

Now that you’ve chosen how you want to be perceived, let’s build on it. We live in a busy world where we get bombarded by thousands of marketing messages every day. So how are you ever going to stand out? How is anyone going to notice you?

You need to differentiate! Unfortunately a lot of businesses copy each other plainly because they think ‘the other guy’ has got it all figured out. Most likely he or she hasn’t. Copying is never the answer and it’s kind of uncool too.

So rather than blending in, carve out your own uniqueness. Or, shall we say, disrupt since it seems to be a fashionable word at the moment. Either way, focus on blowing your customers’ minds and they will become loyal and raving fans.

Ask yourself ‘What’s the frustration in my industry?’. Think about what people are annoyed about when working with someone in your industry.

For example, a common frustration in the trades industry is that the tradesperson often arrives late on the job. An electrician decided to create a ‘we are always on time’ guarantee. If any of his electricians arrive late for a job, the client gets $50, even if he or she is only one minute late. It didn’t take long for his business to create an awesome reputation!

Ask yourself and others ‘What would make working with a <insert your industry> irresistible?’

You’ll be surprised by how many great ideas you will get from your clients and friends! How about we set a challenge? Ask ten people in the next ten days and then implement the top three best ideas.

3. Amplify your awesomeness

Ok, it’s time to ramp it up a notch! This is the really fun part because you basically take what you’ve figured out in step one and two and amplify everything!

Now you can get really creative and go completely nuts!

To get started, make a list of every touch point your business has with your prospects and customers. This could include phone calls, emails, social media, your shop or offices, your website, invoices.

Then think about how you can amplify your business’ personality and differentiation at each of these touch points.

If you’ve chosen quirky as one of your characteristics, how can you add more quirk to your different touch points? You could include a funny quote in your email signature, change your phone greeting to something more interesting, adjust your website copy, send a quirky direct mail to your prospects and give them something to smirk about.

You get the point. The amplifying stage is a continuous work in progress and requires a bit of courage and thinking differently. Why not include your team in a brainstorming activity?

It’s all about ongoing improvement. I could talk about this topic all day long and have even written a whole book about it (launching August 1) .


Franziska is a maverick entrepreneur, leading marketing and brand strategist, speaker and co-author of her latest book, Perception: Take Charge Of How Others View Your Brand: Become Irresistible & Make A Bigger Impact.

In addition to this, Franziska is also the co-founder of,,, and

A true visionary, no challenge seems to be too big for Franziska. She is known for her rebellious nature and challenging the norm. Franziska has this rare combination of being both creative and strategic, which makes her a powerful thought leader in the business world.

To find out more visit or connect with her via different social media channels @franziskaiseli.