How I Learned Everything I Need to Know About Creating a Good “Perception” By Living In My Car

Guest Post by Richard Harmer Brady Media Group

First and foremost I no longer live in my car! With that said, you are more than welcome to send money so that NEVER happens to me again! Second, I didn’t sleep in my car long, 10-11 nights I think….or was a few more?! Anyway, it wasn’t that big of a deal and I was comfortable. Thank you to the Swiss Hotel parking lot lights for keeping me safe! Long story, but the person I was staying with was evicted from his apartment one morning. I actually caught him trying to commit suicide with Nyquil that same morning, an hour before his eviction. I was out all night and found him on the floor, then the po-po showed up to kick him out!! I KNOW!!!! CRAZY!!!!

So that pretty much left me without a place to live. But the moral of this article is…besides pay your apartment bill, is no matter where you are in life it’s the perception you send to others is how you’re inevitably perceived. Very simple! Companies and people are very much alike in that respect. Nobody knew I was living in my car. Not my parents, not my modeling agent (it was when I started modeling), NOBODY!! They couldn’t…it would “devalue” me. So I would go to a friend’s house to shower and clean up, etc…. He thought the water got turned off in the apartment, that’s what I told him anyway.

Perception! Can you judge a book by its cover? Should you? I say hell yeah!! You will anyway. When I look at a company to evaluate its brand or public perception I can instantly see where it fits in the market and what they can do right away to help its perception. It’s not hard. Take out all the bullshit and all the fluff and what do you get? I compare it to walking into a dirty room…What 5 things can you pick up right away or move to make the room look 10 times better? If you look at the room in its entirety it’s all jacked up and crap is everywhere. Simplify what you’re actually looking at. In other words, look at one thing at a time that can make the room look better; then repeat the process. With businesses it’s not crap everywhere, it’s complexity, red tape, perspective and lack of education. They make it hard to change to protect jobs that shouldn’t be there in the first place or everything is done by “committee” so nothing gets done. When you think of a company or look at a logo, something positive or negative comes to mind. It strikes an emotional reaction, weather you’re consciously aware or not. Guess what? When you look at a religious symbol, the SAME thing happens. It’s instant!

When I was living in my car, nobody SAW that! They only saw me dressed up and clean. I was a complete mess inside. I was worried about what I was going to do or where I was going to go! But I knew nobody saw that. All I had to do was create a positive perception and act as if I were already a successful person; then I would be fine. I just needed to change a few things about my actual appearance then I created an entirely different perception from someone that lived in his car. I did, and it worked! I made the messy “room” look MUCH better! It’s common sense. Think about it. What can be seen by the customer or potential buyer? Is it positive? Can it easily be changed to be positive or memorable? This is where the rubber meets the road!! That’s why I say that your “social media” person should be more of a “spokesperson”.

If that person has a positive persona, your company will. They have DIRECT contact with the audience. It’s not just a “top” down approach anymore, but very much a “bottom” up approach. By the way, notice how I said “person” in social media, not a company… people interact with people, not organizations, but that’s another article!

I won’t beat around the bush, I’ll be honest and tell companies, “whatever you’re doing sucks,” it doesn’t matter the explanation of why they’re doing it. Creating a great perception is much easier than it sounds. Remember the whole first impression thing? Yeah, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s more true now than ever before. In everything you do, what people “first” think is the most likely way they will continue to “view” that company. Look, I’m not saying you can’t win them over. I’m just saying it’s much easier to begin the relationship building process if they have a positive and memorable experience with your brand.

If you’re on the inside it’s hard to see HOW you’re viewed from an external position…huh… you’re on the INSIDE! Like living in my car, I didn’t think it was THAT bad! I had no idea what I was doing was dangerous and a little nutty till after the fact, till I could see my position from the outside. I just knew the perception I needed to create could NOT be that I lived in my car! So remember, in order to see what the public sees you may have to “live” in your customers’ shoes or get an outside, unbiased and honest opinion.

Perception is everything. Communication happens so fast nowadays, so make sure the time you’re out of the “car” you’re at your very best as a person and as an organization. Oh… I’m serious about sending money! I have a “successful” perception to uphold!

Richard Harmer, Brand Strategist — Brady Media Group. Join me Richard on Linkedin