At the start of a new year, many of us make pledges to go to the gym, stop drinking and overhaul our diet, but how many brand owners resolve to improve the health of their business?
You might not realise it, but there’s every chance your brand name could have gone a bit flabby in the middle over the course of 2017. To check its health and vitality, Attest can put your brand through its paces with a series of key consumer tests (think of it as a British Military Fitness class for your business).
By asking the right questions, you can find out everything from how much pulling power your brand has to how strong it is against the competition. Having access to your performance data will show you any areas that need improvement and help set you up for success in 2018.
1. Is your team aligned to your mission?
Brand health is not all about your customers’ opinions - the beliefs of your staff and agency partners also matter, after all they’re the ones creating campaigns and taking your brand forward into the marketplace. As such, starting your audit at home can ensure all members of your team are singing from same hymn sheet before you embark on the first quarter.
It’s important that everyone knows what your brand stands for and what your company mission and goals are. You can test this by asking team members the same set of questions, such as, ‘Why are we in business/what do we stand for?’, ‘What do we sell?’, ‘Who for?’, ‘Why would they choose us over competitors?’
If you have as many different answers as you have respondents, and discover beliefs among your staff that conflict with your own (and each other), it’s necessary to work on your brand strategy to ensure it is both clearly outlined and well communicated.
You can test again after this process to monitor progress. It is useful to also repeat this testing after onboarding new team members, business partners or external agencies.
2. How satisfied are existing customers?
While you’re likely to want to gain new customers in 2018, it’s important not to forget about the existing ones. If they’re not happy, they’ll not only defect to a competitor, they’ll also advise others against buying your brand. So, before you start on any customer acquisition plan, take a temperature check to find out how well your brand is doing in terms of customer satisfaction.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure trusted by marketing professionals to reflect general brand health. To calculate NPS, customers are surveyed on one single question, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or a colleague?” Based on their rating, customers are then classified as either brand detractors, passives or promoters.
The Net Promoter Score is determined by subtracting the percentage of customers who are detractors from the percentage who are promoters. A good NPS is considered to be anything above zero, with anything above 50% being excellent.
For even more insight, you could use Attest to find the industry average, and then benchmark your score against that. If it does not compare favourably, spend time uncovering where the problems are (and fixing them) before investing in additional marketing. Don’t forget to keep retesting NPS throughout the year to monitor your progress!
3. How much brand awareness do you enjoy?
So, your customers are really pleased with the service you’re providing and look likely to stay loyal - great job. But while maintaining your customer base is brilliant, achieving those lofty new revenue goals in the New Year will also require a steady stream of new customers. How much of a challenge this is likely to be depends on your overall brand awareness levels.
It’s not enough that your existing customers know who you are and what you’re about; prospective customers need to know your name too - or else there’s little chance they might give you a try
In fact there’s increasing evidence that a strong brand has a positive impact on all areas of marketing, including digital and performance areas like PPC, social media, SEO and overall conversion rates.
An excellent way to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing messages is to run an unprompted brand recall survey among consumers who are not yet customers.
You might ask them to name a brand they associate with stylish furniture, for example, and see how many people give yours. As well as demonstrating how much share of mind your brand currently enjoys, this will also help you understand the key competitors you’re up against (if 70% of respondents name the leading competitor, you’ll need to work hard to challenge them).
Meanwhile, you can also ask consumers outright how likely they’d be to switch to your brand and discover anything standing in your way of acquiring that customer. Another way to check if your internal brand messaging is filtering through is to ask consumers to list the traits they associate with your brand. If they’re not the ones you desire, you’ll know there’s some work to do on comms in 2018.
4. Are you maintaining relevance?
No matter how much customer loyalty and awareness your brand possesses, if you fail to respond to trends and changing tastes you’re likely to be going the way of the dodo. You can’t rely on your history to secure your future; long-term brand health relies on thinking ahead and taking action now (it’s like wearing sun protection to avoid wrinkles and melanoma down the line).
Surveying consumers to see how relevant they consider your brand to be is a good way to measure if you’re doing enough. Do they view you as an innovative brand? Are there features missing from your current offering they would like to see introduced? Do they think they’ll still be buying the kinds of solutions you can offer in 5, 10, 15 years, or do they dream that something better will come along one day?
Perhaps there are already challenger brands on their radar? If you don’t endeavour to find out as early as possible, you might be left on the back foot when a newbie becomes a serious threat - after all, having tonnes of brand equity hasn’t protected legacy hotel brands from industry disruptor AirBnB. However, understanding what you’re up against can ensure you’re prepared to compete.
5. Is that planned marketing campaign or product launch a wise move?
Perhaps you’re ahead of the curve and intend to kick 2018 off with a revamped product and/or marketing strategy? Before you do, be sure to avoid a flop (or worse, a backlash) by consumer testing your ideas to see how they’ll be received.
Making big decisions on the basis of internal brainstorming alone is risky, and especially foolish when it’s so easy get feedback on your concepts, in a matter of hours by using a platform like Attest.
If you’re considering a branding or packaging change or a new advertising campaign, invite consumers to give their opinions on mock-ups before going to print.
If they don’t like it, it’s easy to go back to the drawing board - and this time you can inform your ideas with insight from your target customers. Ask them what they’d like to see, what matters to them, and work with them hand in hand to craft winning creative that will skyrocket your success in the new year.
Measuring your success
Once you’ve conducted a thorough fitness check, you’ll have a good idea of what needs to be done to get your brand into peak physical condition in 2018. It’s time to translate those goals into actions and append to them Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in order to be able to measure your progress.
Let’s look at some examples. Perhaps you’ve identified a need to improve your overall brand recognition so you decide to run a six-month advertising campaign in a national magazine read by your target audience. Success might be a 10% increase in people naming your brand in an unprompted recall test. Measuring for uplift at key points throughout the campaign will show you the effectiveness of your strategy (and enable you to tweak it), as well as your ultimate ROI on advertising spend.
Maybe your brand’s NPS was disappointing compared two a key competitor, so you want to increase it to match (or succeed) that of your rival. First you’ll want to dive into the reasons why consumers gave their particular scores (very easy to do in our dashboard), which provides you with more details on what you could be doing better.
Let’s say, your customer service is highlighted as a weakness, and customers are waiting too long for a response to emails and calls - a possible solution could be to introduce instant online chat. Perhaps you’ve even surveyed customers as to their favourite means of contact?
KPIs could include responding to enquiries within a certain timeframe, and at least 70% of people rating your customer services as “good” to “excellent” after interacting with it. You might aim for a corresponding NPS increase of 8 percentage points - once you hit it, keep on measuring to make sure your customers remain happy and you haven’t let anything slide.
Whatever your KPIs might be, Attest can not only help you measure your progress towards them, but actually achieve them by providing the consumer insight you need to improve your product or service. So, whether your brand health checks uncover strengths or weakness, make consumer testing with Attest an ongoing part of your strategy - this year and beyond.