The Perception Paradox: Losing the Battle to Win the War


Sometimes you have to lose a battle before you can win the war. There’s nothing appealing to me about losing anything–not a battle, not my keys, not even weight these days. But in business, as in life, we must pick our battles carefully even to the point of letting go of what we are certain of in order to accomplish the bigger goal. perceptionREALITY


I was reminded of such dynamic as I saw a large Interstate billboard featuring a campaign The A Group has developed. There’s nothing wrong with the billboard. It’s well designed, legible, and its message clear. The main problem is that it’s not the most effective way to market the product. The return on investment (ROI) on the expensive billboard is not proven. So why do it in the first place?

The billboard was an important piece for the client. The ability to see their marketing campaign on a major thoroughfare created a psychological well being in the entire organization, validating in the mind of many the efficacy of the entire campaign. So how much is the client’s perception of a project worth? A whole lot. Trust me.

It took me a while before I realized that certain things which were important to a client were not necessarily tied to success but to the perception of success. The billboard is a reminder of it for me. Sometimes it’s an app, because every organization must have an app to be legitimate, of course. Ultimate we cannot lose too many battles or we will most definitely lose the war, but we must understand what’s important to our clients and figure out a way to win on the perception side while delivering the bottom-line results we were hired to do in the first place.

When was the last time you lost a battle to win the war?


  • Jon

    I have to lose many battles in order to stay married!. 🙂

  • Mark Jeffress

    In my job, i have to fight a lot of political battles to get stuff done in my department. I have to pick my battles carefully, otherwise I might sacrifice the important wins for an easy one that doesn’t really matter.

  • Bret Pemelton

    Good seeing you last week my friend! Once again, you’ve hit on a big one, especially in my retail business.

    I use to display mostly on tables, but soon found rolling carts to be more effecient and could bring more quantities. So I used several less tables. Well to my clients, the perception was almost immediate: “You don’t have as much items as you did last time”. I would kindly explain that I actually had more, but they didn’t buy it. One of the ways I conquered that was to create my own perspective by employing display techniques where as I used crates and platforms for more height to give the impression they were looking at a “wall” of products. It seemed to nip that old perspective in the bud. But it’s always lurking around the corner…I can just feel it!

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