Welcome back to our Viral Solutions series on branding. We now have a good understanding of what branding is and how to begin defining your own brand. But how can you ensure your developed brand image will be effective?
To truly ensure your branding is effective, you must have an understanding of your target audience. After all, branding is all about creating an image that your desired customers will embrace and instantly associate with your company.
Gaining such an understanding of your audience requires some in-depth customer research. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of that research.
Prepare well before you start
Before you begin reaching out to your customers and working on getting to know them better, you should know exactly which questions you want to answer. This will keep your research focused amidst what is likely to become a sea of information. For example, if you are going to be conducting a survey, your team should agree on the set of questions you will ask and not deviate from that list.
As much as possible, make sure the audience to whom you are reaching out is truly representative of your target customer. When you’re just getting started, this might take a little bit of guesswork. But if you have already created a target buyer persona, you should have a good idea of the demographics you are attempting to reach.
One great strategy for learning more about your audience is to communicate with them in one-on-one interviews, whether it’s over the phone, in person or online.
Of course, it can be difficult to find willing interviewees to lend you their time. Your best bet is to have customer satisfaction surveys sent out after a customer makes a purchase. Those who respond, and do so favorably, will be much more likely to be willing to be interviewed. You could also offer incentives for people to participate in your interview, such as a 20% off gift card. In general, though, you should avoid cold calling or emailing, as it is unlikely to generate many responses and likely to annoy your customers.
When holding interviews, ask open-ended questions to allow people about their experiences. For example, rather than asking “Is X a good solution for Problem Y,” you should instead ask, “What have you found to be the best solution for Problem Y?”
You should always avoid asking leading questions that unfairly influence the answers your customers provide. This manipulates your data in an unhelpful way. Additionally, you should focus on making people feel comfortable. Customers might, for example, be hesitant to offer criticisms of your company or work, so you should make sure they know they are encouraged to speak their mind and share their feelings
Use social media
Social media has become one of the best and simplest tools for researching your target audience. You can easily find out what people are saying about your company by checking your mentions or by searching for your company’s name through the platform’s search function.
But that’s only the beginning of what you can accomplish regarding audience research on social media. You can analyze who else your customers are following to get an idea of the kinds of people, businesses or topics they care about or find interesting. You can use various tools to find out who’s linking your content on social media to give you a better idea of what types of content perform well with your target audience.
Get information from your customer service teams
Anyone already working with your company in a customer-facing role likely has some information that can be helpful about your audience. They know the kinds of questions your customers are asking most frequently, what their most common problems and pain points are and what people generally like the most about your company. All of these elements can help you create a stronger, more appealing brand to your target audience.
All of these are strategies you can use to perform better customer research to help guide you as you develop your company’s brand. Stay tuned next week as we continue to discuss the branding process!
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