Principio Marketing

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What is the brand image and why is it important? Up until now, we focused on what we wanted our brand to be. This time around, we look at the customer's perspective. Why is this important? Because there may be a difference between what you want to project and how you are perceived.

This is the brand image. To manage it well, you need to know it, measure it, make corrections to your communications/advertisements, and repeat.

How do you know the brand image your customers, potential customers or target clients have of you? Ask them! One of the best ways is to do a survey measuring the different dimensions that are important to your business.

One place that could help is your corporate mission. There you will find values, standards, and goals that you want your business to be identified with. You can ask your interlocutors if these are "very", "moderately", or "not at all" associated with your company.

For example, if you identified “having a good customer service” is an important aspect for your company, you might ask:

  • During your last visit (client), were you treated promptly, adequately and your questions answered to your satisfaction?
  • During your last purchase, did you receive a follow-up from your contact at our company asking if you had any questions or problems with your purchase?
  • Have you tried to reach us outside of our business hours? If yes, was the follow-up done in less than 24 hours (insert the appropriate number of hours for you here)?
  • If you expressed dissatisfaction, did our company's contact try to find a solution to the problem? Were you satisfied with the proposed solution?
  • If you have experienced payment problems, did our contact person offer you alternatives? Did these solve the problem?
  • Would you recommend our company to your family members and friends?
  • If you had to describe our company in one word, which of these would you use?
  • An important point: when trying to find out if your business is perceived to offer good customer service, do not just ask: "do you think my company provides good customer service"? Because this would be too broad. Having good “customer service” can mean so many things to people. Without having specific questions that define very well how you measure customer service, the answers may provide little information. So word your questions carefully. Define what you want to measure in a manner that everyone can understand. Asking: "Do you think we do a good job? " would be of no use.

    The other important point is to have a neutral and representative sample of the population in your market. This might be the most difficult aspect to achieve. Why? Because finding people to fill out a survey is difficult. The demand is high and why would they do this for you? This is where you have to be creative.

    You could get people interested by organizing a contest (respect the rules governing contests in your region), you could offer a reward (fill out the survey and you will get a 10% discount on XXXX), you could organize a physical event where people have to complete the survey, you could encourage references to the survey, there are many ideas.

    Once everything is well put together, you should get your survey in the hands of the different types of people who are likely to buy from you:

  • Your customers.
  • Your potential customers (those who have shown interest, but have not yet initiated a purchase).
  • People who match your target audience, but who are neither customers nor potential customers yet.
  • Each segment is important because it tells you which communications you will have to work on.

    If your customers give you a message that they don't understand what you want to communicate, then you need to review your communication with them; emails, proposals, invoices, packaging, phone messages, etc. All points of contact with your customers are important. Does the problem come from potential customers? You have to review your ads, your website, and your content marketing. If the problem is more with people who have the desired profile, but who have not bought from you, then you might have a targeting problem; your communications might not reach your target customers. So each segment is important and gives valuable information.

    What are the tools to create a survey? I use SurveyMonkey, but it is not a recommendation and it is not the only tool. It is the one I use. The free version gives access to 10 questions which, in my opinion, is enough to have a good dialogue with your respondents. More questions and you might run into a problem with people not starting or completing the survey. Several social media also offer polls directly on their page using their tool. The problem with these, especially if you are on multiple platforms, will be with compiling the data. It would be best to use the same tool on all your platforms including your emails to concentrate the answers in one place.

    The survey industry is a world in itself with very important companies doing a great job. You only have to think of the firms which give the voting intentions before an election (very popular now with our southern neighbor). If you have the budget, go with such a firm. Otherwise, here is information that will help you have a clearer vision of this field.

    Our goal is to get an idea of what the market thinks about our business to be able to make the necessary corrections to our communication, if necessary. Questions like: How many people need to participate in the survey for it to be representative? What should the subset be for it to represent the profile of your customers? What are the margins of error?

    How many respondents should you have for your data to be representative?

    An easy answer would be: as much as possible. But this number can vary if you sell to consumers or if your customers are businesses. Having 10 companies responding to your survey can be representative (it all depends on the degree of error you want to accept and the size of the market you are surveying), but having ten direct consumers responding to your survey might suggest that you have to try harder.

    We did not give a precise answer to the question, because there are two main parameters: the size of the market and the acceptable degree of error. The closer the sample size is to the size of the market, the smaller the margin of error will be. But this is impossible to do for a small business with a limited budget. I would say that over 100 respondents, divided into our three groups (clients, potential clients, and client profile, but not yet client), should give a sufficiently clear picture to make corrections to our communication should you need to.

    For businesses selling to businesses, I would try to have 10 businesses in each of the groups. However, I would survey multiple touchpoints within the same company to make sure the perception is the same.

    Many will say that these numbers are not sufficient, but the effort that will be expended to simply have these numbers will surprise you. Afterward, if you want to do more, go for it! Your level of precision will be even greater.

    Are surveys the only way to find out what people think about our business? No, you can also monitor people's opinions online. Different review sites can offer a fair amount of information about your operational performance and how people perceive you.

    There are also focus groups. But if budget is an issue, it is certainly not a less expensive alternative to surveys. But it may be that in certain circumstances this option could be desirable. I have seen companies combine surveys with sales. Of course, your product/service must be in a price bracket that justifies this type of approach. There is also the “ethical” aspect. Pretending to "understand" a person's opinion and ultimately try to make a sale may not be right for everyone. Personally, that is not something I will do, especially when I want to look after my image. This is what we are talking about here. But we want to explore the theme, so this remains an option.

    Another more indirect way to get to understand "how they find us" is to check the performance of your website, in an "Analytics" type tool. What are the keywords for which you perform well? Validate that they are in line with what you want to have yourself known for. Which pages on your site generate the most traffic? Some applications can complement this analysis by giving you the places on a page that visitors spend the most time, called "heatmap" tools. This can be useful if you have more than one piece of information per page. This analysis is not straightforward because it may reflect an ergonomics issue, but it can also offer information. For example, if your "discount/promotion" page is more viewed than your product page, you might have a problem with the perception of your prices or your value-added proposition; either your prices are too high, your transformation process is not well understood, you are doing too many promotions, or your market segment is not the right one.

    If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.


    Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
    Marketing consultant