Your customers' perceptions of you and your competitors drive their purchase decisions. These perceptions are created by the various messages in the marketplace: your competitors' and yours, those of alternatives and influencers such as media, and communications among your customers as well.
Your internal perceptions represent a collective view of the marketplace and its value drivers. These are a corporate 'gut feel' and they underlie the most important decisions your people make on a daily basis. Once these internal perceptions are collected and documented, they provide a level of insight on their own, showing discrepancies, errors and opportunities. Once they are compared with the perceptions of the marketplace, they chart a roadmap for better communications, training, process and sometimes even product configuration or design changes.
Some of these communications will add to customer's perception of value, some will be misunderstood and will, inadvertently, detract from their perception of your value. Some communications will be inflated out of proportion and most will be ignored.
This all leads to a situation that was brilliantly summarized by Peter Drucker:
“Customers rarely buy what organizations believe they are selling.”
But when you better know how well, or not, your marketing messages drive the perceptions you wish to communicate, how your company compares to competitors and alternatives, you have answers to what customers really want to hear. You can better your communication and increase your customer loyalty and competitiveness.