When you’re running a business, you want to influence your customers: find the people who are willing to spend money on a business in your industry, and convince them that you are the right people to go to. It feels weird to think that the flow of influence should go the other way, but if you don’t allow the needs of your customers to influence how you make your business decisions, you’ll alienate a potentially huge chunk of your audience and miss out on their revenue.

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You need to meet your market halfway: find out how those customers are making their decisions and make sure you are at least meeting them halfway. If customers aren’t shopping with, aren’t talking about, aren’t as aware of your business, then it’s a sign you are doing something wrong, and you need to allow that feedback to influence your business.

Today we’re looking at how you can do that, and your most important first step: Brand Tracking.

A brand tracker survey is made up of several important components. First, the respondents: this is a survey that tracks your brand health in the market at large, so you need to do a cross section of people from that big group, not simply your own customers. This means you almost certainly need to work with a market research firm, who have the necessary reach to conduct surveys that get you helpful data.

In the substance of the survey itself, respondents are asked to rank your brand in several key areas. Firstly, brand recognition. Do they, when asked to list businesses in your niche, think of your name? If they do, how soon do they think of it, and what other businesses come first in that list?

This gives you a measure of the unprompted recall your brand commands. The next step digs deeper: customers are asked to rate your brand, identify your closest competitors, and the key qualities that define success in your industry. This lets you know whether you’re perceived as trustworthy, if you offer value for money, are recognised as an expert in your field, are fun, relatable, or whatever else is the primary driver of customers to your brand.

Seeing where your brand ranks for these qualities, both absolutely and relative to your rivals is a vital reality for you. If you’ve poured your time and resources into making a brand that you think speaks to young people with money to spend on their level, and in reality that demographic simply doesn’t find you relatable then you need to be aware of it so you can change your strategy or find the customers your brand does speak to, and lean into their concerns and priorities.