I was out and about yesterday, studiously avoiding all media for April Fool’s Day, and went over to the local botanical gardens for a bit.

(aside: you did remember to mark all as read in your inbox and blog reader to avoid sharing yesterday’s jokes as actual news today, yes?)

While out, I had a chance to see some very nice gardens in full bloom, including this field of daffodils.

Raw daffodils

That’s a factually correct, accurate representation of the flowers, to be sure. My camera can lie, but in this case, that’s probably close to the objective truth. The only problem is, that isn’t what I remember.

This is what I remember:

Corrected Daffodils

This version, of course, has been corrected in Photoshop using enhanced contrast, a boost in vibrance and saturation, and color corrected towards the red and green parts of the photo. It is in no way what came out of my camera.

Which is more authentic? The version that the camera correctly recorded, or the retouched version? That depends on your definition of authenticity. For me, the second version is what I remember seeing. It’s the key points – the greenness of the field, the brightness of the yellow flowers, the orange of the inner flower that tell me I’m looking at a representation of the photo that matches the memory I have. Someone else might insist that the untouched, uncorrected version is authentic and that my perception is flawed, incorrect, inaccurate.

Here’s the catch: if someone were marketing this photo to me, they would make the sale based on the adjusted photo, and not on the unadjusted one. Why? Because the first photo is authentic to the raw data that was present when the camera took the photo, but the camera is not making the purchase. Despite its inauthenticity and heavy manipulation, the second photo is authentic to the memory of the experience I had. While it is factually less truthful, it is more aligned with what I remember.

This, by the way, is the very definition of brand – a perception distilled out of the summary of experiences someone has had with you.

Ask yourself this: when a prospective customer makes the transition to becoming a customer, do their experiences as a customer align with what they remember from being a prospect? If their experiences as a customer are better than what they remember, then you’ve won their loyalty. The customer daffodils are brighter and more vibrant than the prospect daffodils. If their experiences are worse than what they remember, then you’ve got a customer who will jump ship for any competitor who promises an experience that recalls the memories of what the customer once had, because all the competitor has to do is hold up a photo of daffodils that looks like what the customer remembers and yearns for, and you’ve lost them.

In order to keep the customer, you have to be providing the same or greater value and happiness than what you provided to woo them in the first place. Look at your “daffodil photos” of your marketing and your actual customer experiences, then ask which is the better experience and act accordingly.


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