Every day we ask our 4 year old how was school. Often times it is good, but just as often we hear some bad stuff as well. Like, “we only read books once in a while.” And one time she came home and told us she had to sit in the class room while all of her friends played outside “the entire time.”
As you can imagine, we were very concerned as parents. Over the course of a month and a half, we became so frustrated with the school and lack of academic focus (and I’m talking ABC’s here), that we began investigating alternatives to finish the rest of this school year, from local private schools to home schooling. But before we took any steps, we wanted to talk to the school to truly understand the problem.
Consequently, we found the program is more structured than we thought. They do get to read books every day, learn their ABC’s, and much more. Additionally, the extent of their discipline strategy is a 5 minute time out on a bench, and only after speaking to them and they continue to disrupt the class and not listen.
What this continues to reinforce for me is the difference between perception and reality, and the school’s inability to influence the dozens of factors that influenced my opinion. To provide context on how we arrived to home schooling was pretty logical at the time. I mean its not like we took a 4 year old at her word:).
First we must address brand perception. What is the first thing you think about when I say NYC public school? Yeah…me too. What does your brand represent and what challenges or opportunities have you created for yourself before the point of purchase, and afterwards?
Then there is media – B2B trade pubs, B2C sites, and even social media. What are people saying about you that you aren’t telling them. I spoke with other NYC public school teachers, blogs, online reviews by parents, education websites, and even a movie! Not so far fetched…I bet Facebook didn’t think someone would create a movie about them so quickly. Documentaries have made their way mainstream and popular movies have been created to highlight issues around schools, fast food, guns, insurance and healthcare, smoking, etc.
Once your brand perception is shaped by all of this, the customers’ own interpretation of reality changes based on their interactions and experiences. No matter how good your product or service is, your customers will only focus on the negative and demand unrealistic performance.
What I hope to share from this experience is: