Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Making a Case for “Industry Surveys” as a Valuable Customer-Side View of Your Brand

This question has come up several times, usually in the context of brand re-development: Do we invite customers to participate in our re-branding process? That can be a tricky proposition for two reasons: First, customers are busy, and if they are great customers, they probably appreciate that you respect their time and treat it with efficiency. When approached with questions about a supplier’s brand, they may be quick to offer “get-me-off-the-phone” responses like, “They service us well and their pricing is good . . . Have to run.” Click. Answers like these offer little insight when it comes to understanding a brand’s true unique value.

Also, if approached in the wrong manner, customers might find the inquiry a little weird, or perceive it as a lack of confidence or conviction in your brand: “Why on earth are YOU asking ME who YOU are? That’s up to you to figure out. “

Thankfully, there is a trusted approach to getting the feedback you want, without the obtrusiveness of directly asking customers. It comes in the form of an “Industry Survey.” Industry surveys are conducted by third parties and can be done via phone, e-mail, or in combination. Essentially, you build a target list that blends customers with prospects, and ask questions from the position of the industry as a whole.

Common questions would include:

  • In thinking of all the <Insert Your Industry> firms in your region, which one comes to mind first and why?
  • If there is one thing <Insert Your Industry> firms in your region could improve upon, what would it be, and what advice would you have for its improvement?
  • If your company needed the services of a <Insert Your Industry> firm right now, and you narrowed the selection to 2-3 firms, what would be the single most important factor you would base your final decision on?
Any survey questions should be easily answered, and should not take recipients more than 6-9 minutes to complete. Using this method will not only give you the candid and in-depth insight you are looking for, but also keep your brand safely anonymous to ensure a more unbiased response.

The big challenge these days is getting enough respondents for a statistically viable sampling. Let’s face it, everyone is busy these days. One way to overcome this is by attaching a special offer or drawing as a way of enticing people to fill out the form. We incorporated this approach in two recent Delia Associates e-newsletters and received very favorable feedback in both instances. Go to our e-newsletter site, and check out Volume 4, Issues 9 and 10.