The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time full of energy, optimism, and motivation. We have 12 months ahead of us to grow our brands and businesses in new and innovative ways. That said, sometimes it’s difficult to harness all that enthusiasm and focus its strategic implementation. So, I’ve created a recommendation list of the top projects to consider as you pursue brand growth and evolution over the next year.
An important note before jumping into the list; these projects themselves have been foundational aspects of business success for many years. In fact, you likely have conducted one or more of these at some point. But in 2023, we’re looking to level-up traditional business concepts through forward-thinking and strategic creativity.
So, all that said, let’s get into my project recommendations.
5) Competitive Market Evaluation
From shifting economic conditions and evolving consumer behaviors to new start-up brands and emerging disruptors, your competitive landscape is in a constant state of flux. Successfully navigating this ever-changing world starts with gaining a detailed picture of how that world exists today. In doing so, you’ll have the vision needed to identify and react to changes, seize opportunities, and sidestep pitfalls.
The core of a Competitive Market Evaluation is exploration. We sift through emerging trends to find those with the highest potential impact. We traverse prospect segments and audiences to find open market share. We assess competitors, both direct and indirect, to better understand how and where you fit within your category or sector.
These efforts to take a detailed snapshot of your current environment are centered around preparing for the future and making informed decisions. With the vast amount of information and insights just a few clicks and keystrokes away, taking a strategic approach is the best approach.
4) Data Inventory Assessment
Similar to the Competitive Market Evaluation, a Data Inventory Assessment is about leveraging and optimizing information that already exists today. Most brands are sitting on a treasure trove of data-driven insights gathered through performance tracking, sales history, and customer feedback surveys. But all too often these insights have become stagnant, fragmented, or simply underutilized.
So, before launching a project to gather new information, we want to get the most out of what you already know. Through our goal-oriented and tactical methods, we assess your data inventory in search of insights hidden below the surface. We extract new take-aways that may not have been relevant when the insights were first gathered, and we identify data-gaps that can guide future insights projects.
There are a variety of benefits with this project, such as increased ROI from past efforts and organizing existing data to be more accessible moving forward, which is why looking inward before looking outward is so powerful.
3) Customer Journey Mapping
Over the years, this term has become a buzzword as businesses prioritize customer experience development. Which is great! But sometimes buzzwords lose their meaning and the basic concepts become convoluted. We’ve come across many brands who have all the pieces for a Customer Journey Map without even realizing it. So, this type of project likely won’t be starting from scratch.
While there are a number of different definitions for “Customer Journey Map,” it’s generally a visual outline of all the ways customers are interacting with your brand. By taking your omni-channel presence and building a detailed flow chart of when, where, and how you interact with an audience, it becomes easier to see how all the moving pieces fit together. You gain a better understanding of how each touch point influences the others. And strengthening your customer experience strategy becomes more streamlined because all the dots are connected in one place.
From a ground-level and tactical perspective, Customer Journey Mapping tremendously helps with things like content creation and personalization. You can insert a unique customer persona and follow along was they walk through their journey with your brand. By putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, you’ll see and think about the experiences you’re offering differently.
2) Brand Awareness & Perception Study
To get where you want to go, start with a snapshot of where you are today. Think of it like mapping directions. In this case, you have a vision for who you want your brand to be – that’s the destination. And to find the most efficient route, you need to have a starting point. This is one of the main benefits of Brand Awareness and Perception Studies. It establishes where you stand within the minds of consumers today so that you can plan and strategize how to get where you want to be tomorrow.
Another benefit is marketing performance tracking. By gathering awareness and perception insights, you’ll have a benchmark of what people think, feel, and say about your brand. Then, after completing a targeted marketing campaign, you conduct the study again. Now you have apples-to-apples comparative data to gauge the impact of your brand messaging. With that information, you can tweak and adjust your content as needed to achieve your desired outcomes.
This is helping take the guesswork out of marketing and brand development. Rather than basing decisions on assumptions or deductive reasoning, you have hard facts and data-driven insights which will boost your confidence and agility when making key decisions.
1) Customer Insights Strategy Building
This is by far the most important and impactful project I recommend kicking off the new year. It’s one that should be completed before any other because it establishes a framework for success in all others. It ensures each new project you launch builds upon the last, yields meaningful progress, and it maximizes the value of all your resources.
Yes, each of the previous four projects can be conducted on their own and will have a positive impact. But there are two key points to consider. One, there is incredible value when multiple projects are connected to each other. When coordinated and combined, they will accelerate success timelines and uncover multi-dimensional insights that simply aren’t possible through an ad-hoc approach. Two, keeping your insights organized and accessible builds long-term value from short-term initiatives. By thinking and planning strategically, you’ll position yourself to be creating future value that may not even be on your radar today.
One of the best parts is, building a Customer Insights Strategy isn’t a complicated undertaking. It’s simply mapping out a series of projects, establishing how they can be tied together, and identifying where the resulting insights will be most useful. That said, while it’s not necessarily complicated, there is a right way of going about this. For over 35 years, we at MacKenzie have been honing our approach to building Customer Insights Strategies that directly align with the unique goals of our partner brands. So, if you’re interested in setting yourself up for long-term success in 2023 and beyond, we’d love to be part of that process!
From high-level strategic guidance to ground-level tactical support, we have a service package to fit your needs. But the first step is an exploratory discussion to see if we’d be the right fit. So, please feel free to send me a note or give me a call so we can schedule a time to chat. We’re passionate about empowering brands with the data-driven insights needed to achieve meaningful growth and evolution. And we’re ready to get started whenever you are.
Want to learn more about what we do? Check out our main services here.