Why I forgot your name the moment I met you
Sean Smith

Perceptions > Facts

Are you teaching your customers facts or are you creating perceptions?

Your name means nothing to Sean Smith. He writes:

I forgot your name the moment I met you.
I’m actually really good with names…but until I know you your name means nothing to me, therefore I don’t have any reason to remember it.

Sean will remember your name only if you give him a reason to. Offer him value and he’ll file your name away along with the characteristics that matter to him.

Your ability to get Sean and others to remember you is a reflection of your interpersonal skills. Some refer to this as personal branding.

Most people are great personal brand managers.

We consistently present ourselves the way we want to be seen. We establish meaningful human connections in order to advance our goals. We never demand of total strangers their full attention while expecting obsequiousness to our requests.

We all have selfish motives. I want others to know important facts about me. Professionally, I want them to know not just my name, but my interests and abilities. These are all just facts.

But I know I can’t just throw these facts at others and expect them to stick. “My name is Eric. I’m passionate about ideas and branding. I want to work with you to bring your ideas to life. My name’s Eric, by the way. Eric’s the name: Brand building’s my game. I’m Eric. Nice meeting you.”

If I acted this way people would file me away as a desperate, selfish weirdo. They may remember my name, but I’d be associated with all the wrong characteristics. The perception of me would not be good.

We know that people file away perceptions, not facts, and we act accordingly.

And yet, despite our natural understanding of human behavior, many of us promote our companies, products or services by shouting out our facts and features.

We throw fact after fact after fact at the listener and expect them to remember them all. We’re shocked when customers don’t remember any facts about our products or even remember our products at all.

Steve Jobs once said “This is a very complicated world. A very noisy world. And we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember very much about us. No company is.”

A brand is the perception of a company, product or service. This perception isn’t a heap of facts, it’s a simple, short concept. Branding matters because people file away perceptions, not facts.

Your job as a brand builder is to create a perception.

You do this by first knowing what perception you want to create and then by making sure that your every interaction with your audience supports this perception. Only then will people file your name away. Only then will you be a brand.

Few people in this world will ever know many of my facts. No one will ever know with any precision the true measure of my abilities. All most people will remember about me is how I made them feel, a handful general characteristics and whether they think me capable or not. When I position myself these are the perceptions I strive to create.

Don’t expect Sean or anyone else to care about your facts, whether you’re a person or product. Don’t take it personally. The world is just too noisy. If you want Sean’s attention, be a brand builder. Create a perception.

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