As I have said in other posts, recessions can be a good thing. Jack Welch called it a “bottom blow.” Clean out the weakest 10% regardless. Forest fires are actually a good thing. But cutting budgets many times results in the elimination of critical activities that can spell catastrophe for a business; in the extreme, cutting back on certain types of insurance, eliminating background checks on new hires, or not attending key trade shows that generate critical revenue.
The dilemma is there are some fundamental activities you must continue regardless of your financial position. The trick is how. One of them is annually assessing your brand position.
How to Do-It-Yourself
You don’t have the staff and you can’t afford to hire a brand agency. Is it possible to do-it-yourself? Yes. Here’s how.
- Identify what you want to measure. There are many opinions about which aspects of a brand to measure. The key is that you measure what is important to you. Some examples are favorability, differentiation, credibility, and advocacy.
- Favorability. A measure of how customers position your brand against competitive alternatives (better, worse).
- Differentiation. A measure of the distinction and uniqueness of your brand.
- Credibility. A measure of the authenticity of your brand. Does the brand experience deliver on the brand promise.
- Advocacy. A measure of the word-of-mouth power of your brand among customers.
- Choose a data collection method. You can conduct a survey (quantitative) or customer interviews (qualitative), or both. Any data is better than no data. Balanced data is best.
- Surveys. With programs like Survey Monkey and Zoomerang it is easy to conduct your own survey. Especially of existing customers for whom you should have an email address. You may need some help designing the questionnaire but both programs offer very good tutorials and templates. Market research professionals may scoff. But I am a market research professional and I recognize that not everyone can justify hiring a professional–and yet they still need to get the job done. These tools can provide enough insight to make good decisions.
- Customer Interviews. This activity can be a bit tricky to do yourself. The reason is you have to take your sales hat off and put your journalism cap on. You need to be inquisitive rather than defensive. The value of these interviews is high, but if you don’t feel you can do these interviews and you cannot afford a freelance professional, you should probably skip this and focus on the survey.
- Analysis. Going back to No. 1, this process needs to be disciplined to a finite set of agreed-to metrics. It is too easy to let the data confuse everyone. This process can feel very much like a performance review by your boss. Your instincts will be to defend and rationalize. STOP! Step back and try to see the data in an unbiased fashion. What is it saying? Rather than hearing: They don’t like me.
- Report. Reports should contain a single page dashboard that works well as a discussion piece. The rest of the report should be an easy-to-search catalog of the data. A good report must function as a tool, a reference guide for decision-making.
In summary, you can assess your brand position and do it for less than $300. You will need to spend $199 on Zoomerang PRO. There will be paper and phone costs. The rest is your time. Doing it yourself may not be ideal, but when money is tight, it will work. And it is a far better option that electing not to do it.