The time has come in brand management and marketing to loudly proclaim: “The King is dead. Long live the New King!”
There was a time, of course, when traditional brand tracking was king. But that’s ancient history today. In the age of ubiquitous web/mobile shopping, social media apps, and torrents of daily online reviews, does anybody believe they have their finger on the pulse of consumers relying heavily on traditional brand tracking through surveys?
To refresh everyone’s memory, such bygone tracking, which now qualifies for AARP, entails “monitoring” brand health using methodologies such as questionnaires, interviews and focus groups. Those kinds of techniques are particularly suspect when only done quarterly, or once or twice a year. Sorry, but the world moves at near light-speed now, which is about how long it takes to hit the send-button on a smart phone.
If you continue buying in to the Dark Ages of traditional tracking you’ll be at the mercy of people’s opinions of what they might or might not do in the future. You’ll risk basing marketing decisions and campaign investments on the vagaries of “brand awareness,” “future purchase intent,” or “favorable brand image.” Those insights may not be completely useless, but they’ve become risky, low-watt long shots, not very actionable.
An alternative approach is to place an appropriate percentage of your brand-insights budget on actual behavioral evidence, verbatim customer word-of-mouth. These are now pulled in near-real time from online customer conversations and sample sets of “voted-with-my-wallet,” passionately opinionated consumers taking the time to engage with brands of their own accord. That beats the arms-length, too-speculative insights of a survey.
The best digital tracking techniques offer data reeled in daily by the latest brand insights software. And it’s pulled not only from top social media platforms, but, in best cases, also from leading online product-and-service review platforms. Reviews are really the litmus test of accurate behavioral data. It’s there you learn exactly what your product/service purchasers think and intend to do in the future: what’s in their heart-of-hearts. And, you get to see what they are telling others (not just their friends on social, but potentially thousands of strangers who read their reviews).
That’s powerful, particularly when the software pulling the data is educated on a deep lexicon of brand-attribute and category-product-specific keywords and phrases. Nielsen’s trust surveys in advertising have shown for years (and still do, particularly with social and review sites ruling) that word of mouth creates higher levels of trust in consumers than any form of marketing. Period. They also note word-of-mouth correlates with sales, and produces long-term value.
For all these reasons, I believe you must modernize your brand tracking to include Big Data social and review-site insights. Have the courage to cast off your reliance on Medieval brand tracking techniques by modernizing a methodology that no longer keeps pace with the flow of information and digital advertising models. You will be rewarded with brand expert-informed insights and a much stronger understanding of what’s driving your category and competitive set.
In turn, that makes you a more valuable leader organizationally, better equipped to survive and thrive in the many battles modern day insight professionals and marketers fight.
Long live the New King!
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