Creating a brand focuses your message so that your consumers know your mission and values. But a brand isn’t static. Instead, it’s a dynamic, living, breathing asset that should transform as you and your market changes. Trends come and go. Customer needs change. The skills and services you offer expand or contract. Through all these changes, your brand should adjust, otherwise you might become outdated, boring or forgotten in the marketplace. The best example of this phenomena in action is in the publishing industry. Amazon.com has transformed buying, reading and publishing, and the decades old publishing houses and bookstores are lagging further and further behind because they’ve held too closely to the old ways that once worked, instead of evolving as technology and consumer needs changed.
While you create your brand mission and the strategies to convey your brand, your market is the place to discover whether it’s doing its job. Once a year, conduct a market survey to get answers and feedback on how well you’re reaching your target audience and how it feels about your brand.
1) Are you the business your market thinks of first when they need your product or service? Asking your market about what company it thinks of first in your industry is a great way to gauge the strength of your brand. Your hope is that your market will say it thinks of you first and only, but if you’re not keeping up, the answer could be it doesn’t think of you at all. Asking why consumers don’t think of you first can yield a great deal of information about why your market is thinking of another business and clues as to what you can do establish your business in the forefront of consumers’ minds.
2) When your market sees or hears the company name or logo, what comes to mind? This question gets to the heart of your brand. If responses match your brand’s message and mission, you’re doing your job. Negative responses or answers are different from the image you want to portray should be analyzed to find areas that you can improve.
3) How well are you meeting the needs of your market? Although many consumers want to be loyal, if another company comes along offering more or better products and services, they’re going to switch. Following up this question by asking how you can do better or what customers need or what from your company will give you feedback to improve your products or services.
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4) Does or would your market recommend your business to others? This question is included in nearly all feedback surveys because it lets you know how much your customers really believe in your business. Some consumers stay with a business not out of loyalty or love, but out of habit or convenience. That’s all nice and well, but if they don’t value your business enough to mention it to others, that should be a concern. Brands that with staying power have consumers that are happy to give a referral or rave about service. They stay because they love the business, not because they’re too lazy to find a new resource.
You are the expert in the delivery of your product or service, but you’re not the authority in how your market perceives your brand. Market surveys can reveal what you’re doing right and areas you can improve in to give your business staying power.
Leslie Truex is a career design expert who has been helping people find or create work that fits their lifestyle goals since 1998 through her website Work-At-Home Success. She is the author of “The Work-At-Home Success Bible” and “Jobs Online: How To Find a Get Hired to a Work-At-Home Job”. She speaks regularly on career-related topics including telecommuting and home business.