In business, as when meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, making a good first impression is vital. Business invest huge amounts of resource and planning in damage limitation, repairing their image when something goes wrong, but the most valuable thing to do is make the right impression to begin with.
While you can decide to pay attention to this and strive to make a good impression on your incoming customers, so they’ll see your brand as their natural home, good intentions are not enough to assure success. There are so many different factors that can affect brand perception, from your social media presence to the attitude of your customer service staff when they pick up the phone, that it’s almost impossible to analyse the situation for yourself. On top of how complex the job is, if you run a business you are likely too close it to properly understand the customer point of view. You know all too well that the reason you’ve had to offer a less generous refund policy is a rise in the cost of postage, and are more likely to minimise this as a factor, whereas customers do not know why every decision was taken, and that there is a very reasonable explanation for everything you do.
To begin with you need to know what customers think of your brand and your competitors! A brand tracker survey is one of the basic tools of market research that can tell you what people think of you and why, and perhaps most importantly, what forms their opinion of your closest competitors. Allowing your rivals to make your mistakes for you is one of the most important things you can do as a decision maker and you’d be foolish to ignore this crucial resource.
Once your initial surveys are complete you’ll have an idea of who you want your brand to target: who your customers are. You can combine this with more general research and demographic data, as well as your brand tracking to decide how you’re going to appeal them. If you’re planning to speak to an audience of 20-somethings, a relatable, friendly campaign on Facebook and Instagram will build a brand they can get behind, whereas if your products are intended for homeowners in their forties and fifties you may find that a more direct approach works better: wooing them with your quality and cost effectiveness rather than trying to be their friend.