Take a step back and consider what you know about your customers today. Then ask yourself, “is what I know about my customers validated through data-driven insights or are my ideas based on presumptions and past experiences?”
When looking closely at what is known about customers today, we find that many brands are making decisions based on the theories and hypotheses they have about their customers rather than factually proven realities. As informed and educated as these hypotheses may be, they are still a series of presumptions and best guesses. By acknowledging this may be the case, brands are able to take proper steps toward challenging and validating their customer hypothesis; thereby mitigating the risks of building on an unstable foundation.
The way customers are viewed within an organization can vary by department, position, and/or personal experience. For example, a social media manager is focused on understanding behaviors and engagement across the omnichannel digital landscape. So, their understanding of WHO the customer is will exist primarily within this context. The same goes for sales staff who are focused on prospect acquisition and motivating repeat purchases; Marketers who are focused on determining the most influential decision drivers and how to leverage those topics within brand messaging campaigns.
The list of job titles and areas of focus can be a long one because the “divide and conquer” approach has proven successful. However, it runs the risk of unintentionally fragmenting consumers into a series of one-dimensional identities. In other words, when customer persona attributes are departmentalized it’s important to implement processes for bringing all those attributes together. This will paint a more detailed, three-dimensional picture of the customer and offer more in-depth perspectives on how all the pieces fit together.
At MacKenzie, we have leveraged our 35 years of experience to develop a 4-step process for Strategic Brand Positioning; the first step addresses this very concept. Our goal is to “Unlock the Vault” of insights that brands already have. In doing so, together we start to envision how all those fragmented, departmentalized pieces fit together and determine the best ways to either validate or challenge their existing customer hypotheses.
This “Unlock the Vault” process covers a lot of ground exploring customer details, market conditions, and top competitors. As a teaser, here are a few of the key points we address:
What solutions do your products/services provide for your customers? How are you making their lives better?
Modern consumers buy solutions, not products and services. So, the goal of any brand, regardless of size or industry, should be to make their customers’ lives better, easier, and/or more enjoyable. A detailed brand review within this context always serves to clarify the brand’s value propositions, sheds light on differing internal opinions about the brand’s identity, and raises important questions about who the brand wants to be moving forward.
Why do customers choose you over competitors?
A fundamental truth about business (and life) is that intention does not guarantee a specific outcome. Just because a brand wants to be its market’s leader in value and quality doesn’t make it so. This notion is further complicated by the assumption that sales validate intention. If a brand’s intent is to be the market leader in value and quality AND its sales are strong, it still cannot be safely assumed the latter confirms the former. By establishing the existing beliefs and hypotheses surrounding customer purchase decision drivers, brands will clarify the concepts that need to be tested which builds a strategic framework for next steps.
How are customers most likely to learn about your brand? Social media, website, word-of-mouth, etc.?
The topic of Brand Awareness is often overlooked because of the variety and volume of online behavioral data available. From website activity to social media engagement, there’s enough data to keep any brand busy with analysis and reporting. However, these metrics only tell part of the story and it’s easy to misinterpret the story being told. Discussing theories around how customers are most likely to learn about your brand will organize the existing data sources you currently have available, it will highlight areas in need of further detail, and will establish benchmarks to guide ensuing research efforts.
There are plenty more insights to be unlocked through this process, and we’re more than happy to start a discussion about how our approach can be applied to your brand’s current objectives. Give us a shout so we can get started!