Is Your Brand Tracking Study Pulling Its Strategic Weight?
The pandemic has taught us to shift on a dime, pivoting from an aggressive competitive campaign to a people-focused, supportive direction in a matter of weeks. However, it can be hard for marketing teams to plot a clear course. The key to doing this well is having a clear understanding of what your audience is thinking and feeling at any given point in time. This is where your brand tracker should be delivering a strategic view of your audience and the marketplace.
When Brand Teams are creating strategic plans, the real value of planning is the shared thinking required to diagnose the situation, choose a single goal, and prioritize action steps. Findings from a well-designed tracking study can be the key to a strategic planning session. Gathering stakeholders together to synthesize the current reality, gain agreement on the next right thing to do, and align on tactics to make the plan real starts with a clear-eyed answer to, “Where are we now?”
While it may seem strange, your brand tracking study can be the perfect input for your senior stakeholders. Your tracker should be a dynamic indicator of the current consumer trade-off decisions, quantified perceptual shifts, and contextualized new hierarchies shaping your market. This requires a design that goes beyond the typical marketing metrics.
We have helped a number of clients use this opportunity to super-charge their existing brand tracking studies to help executives have a clear view of their current situation.
- A packaged goods client had just restarted their tracker when one of their products suddenly went viral after being mentioned on social media. We were able to modify the tracker to identify the incremental lift provided by the viral event, while continuing to monitor their core brand measurements. This helped executives understand the financial impact of social media and paved the way for increased social media marketing.
- A national restaurant chain was introducing a new product outside their typical product set that would be launched as a slow roll-out across its many locations. We designed their tracker to include an evaluation of the new product within the larger brand survey. Additionally, we coordinated the timing of the waves to match the roll-out of the new products. In this way, we provided a clear picture of the new product’s impact and a read on the traditional brand metrics. Essentially, executives received a nearly real-time product launch evaluation and could adjust quickly to the situation.
- An online retailer wanted to understand the core barriers to using their platform and evaluate efforts to remove that source of friction in the purchase journey over time. Modifying their large, B2B brand tracker, we provided their standard KPIs and also documented the incremental impact of the changes made by the team to improve the purchase journey.
What Does it Take?
Transforming your brand tracker into a source of strategic insight does take some transformation. There are five key steps that you must take to achieve this outcome:
- User-Centered Approach: You must go beyond the industry defined category to understand where your users’ needs are being met and how that might be changing. It is essential to look at the impact of non-category solutions and map your users’ journey to create a deep and thorough understanding of differing segments.
- Understanding the “Why”: Identify the category drivers of brand choice and determine how your brand performs on what matters most compared to user expectations, as well as compared to competitors and alternative solutions.
- Beyond the Funnel: Develop a set of custom metrics to add to your existing marketing funnel and attitudinal questions. These new questions should help you and your team understand the brand trajectory within the user journey.
- Market Changes: Capture the impact of market changes on customer perceptions in your typical tracking metrics, like awareness, usage, momentum, and category leadership. This will help you assess the current brand trajectory and identify differences by user segment.
- Navigating Change: Evolve your tracking with shifting competitive landscapes. While maintaining consistency in core tracking metrics, you will understand the current context and anticipate shifts in your category – from innovation, cultural changes, or COVID-19.
Your brand tracking should provide your marketing team with a clear view of where they stand in customers’ hearts and within the context of their lives. By redesigning your brand tracker, you can provide your team with vital information for immediate decision-making in a rapidly changing environment.
Russell Research can help unleash your brand tracker’s power. Contact us to talk about how to revitalize your current brand tracking or to create a new one.