If you have anything to sell, this is the most important question to ask, and it needs to be the one you’re asking every day. If you let it inform the rest of your decision-making, you’ll be sure your business is always turning to present the best possible face to your market, making it easy for them to choose to spend their money with you.
Putting that resolution into practice is harder than making it – if it was easy, everyone would be an instant success!
The Data Based Approach
The one thing you really need is data. If you don’t have the facts about what people think of your brand, then all your decisions are no better than guesses. The bigger your commitment to a data-based approach the greater the benefits: the more information you have, the better you can predict the outcome of your decisions and the better results you’ll see.
To get really good information, you’ll need to partner up with someone who makes it their full-time business. Finding a market research firm, either for ongoing research or a one-off project to inform a specific decision, means giving yourself access to a broader audience than you could reach alone (as you only have access to people who’ve already chosen to shop with you), and the specialist skills needed to interpret the resulting data – results are no use unless you can understand them and turn them into insights that drive your business forward.
Finding a market research agency means access to brand trackers, which tell you how customers rank your brand against others. It means learning about your net promoter score, getting competitive intelligence about your rivals in the market and a dozen other key insights that could be the difference between success and failure.
The key to making the best use of the data you’re gathering is to keep your market research running, so you can see the effect your choices have had. Making your decision process iterative is a lot of work – it means never quite declaring anything finished because you can always tweak it hoping for better results, but it also means never settling for second best. It means facing the reality of whether your decisions have been successful – if they have made your products appealing to your customers, or if they’ve cost you vital thought share.
As long as you’re committed to facing reality through this data, you can improve it. If you’re not, you won’t know you have work to do until it’s too late.