I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I went to McDonald’s the other day. It was one of those extenuating circumstances: I was starving, on the road, and they are pretty much as prevalent as Starbucks.
I thought I’d make a healthy choice and have a salad. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ll notice that McDonald’s advertising has changed recently. In an attempt to manage the backlash against fatty, unhealthy foods, they have changed their advertising. Their commercials often focus on healthy lifestyle choices, a great example of which is their latest campaign to promote their new line of salads.
But I started to wonder, as I sat there, eating my salad, how many people come in to McDonald’s for a salad? I did a quick survey of the restaurant. As far as I could tell, I was the only person eating salad. A couple of older people were there for coffee and a muffin, but about 95% of the people there were eating burgers and fries.
It got me thinking: if you asked some random person on the street if McDonald’s serves healthy food, they would more than likely say yes. If you asked that same person when the last time was that they had a salad at a fast food restaurant, it would likely have been a long time ago.
We go to McDonald’s for a Big Mac. We don’t go there for salad. But what McDonald’s has done is shift our perception from thinking that they are a bad guy. Whether or not they are selling the salads doesn’t matter. What matters is that we no longer think of them as this huge, ugly corporation that is making our entire nation fat and sick (remember Supersize Me?).
Perception is valuable. How do people perceive you?
Just to be clear, I’m not advocating that you work on your hype and not follow through. I don’t like that McDonald’s has millions and millions of dollars to spend on slick advertising campaigns that appear to be able to change their public perception. What I am saying is, do some research and see if you can find out how people perceive you. Hopefully other people’s perception of you will be positive, and all you have to do is follow through to maintain that. But if it’s not 100% positive, think about how you can change that perception.
And then follow through.
Finally, in a bid to put my money where my mouth is, I’d like to invite you to share your perception of me in the comments section below. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m always interested in hearing ways I can improve.