Five Tools to Use for Perception Research

Effectively measure how customers perceive your brand by leveraging the power of these five essential perception research methods.

Like beauty, brand perception is most decidedly in the eye of the beholder. As Forbes Magazine succinctly puts it, “Brands are not just what they say they are. Brands are what consumers say they are. A brand’s true identity lies in its perception.”

No matter how carefully you have crafted your brand image, you cannot be sure how your target audience in actually perceiving that brand image. In reality, a great gulf may exist between your best intentions and the interpretations of those intentions by your existing and prospective customers.

Although the inner thoughts and emotional/logical responses of others will always remain something of a mystery, you can employ a variety of techniques to peer into the hearts and minds of your marketing audience. Of course, few business leaders have the time and expertise to engage in ongoing, high-quality, in-depth customer perception research, but any professional marketing agency worth its salt will certainly offer these indispensible services with a focus on the unique wants and needs of the companies that it serves.

Here are five tools that experienced and innovative marketers use to identify and measure brand perception. By leveraging the power of these tools, you can make sure that your company narratives and advertising messages successfully reinforce the brand image of your company that exists in the collective mind of your customer base.

1. Leverage the Data from Google Alerts

Imagine if you could hire someone to monitor worldwide Internet use 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, scanning for each and every mention of your company and its specific products/services. You could gain incredible insight into public thoughts and feelings regarding your brand by weighing positive mentions against negative mentions and examining the specific contexts that merit each of these mentions. Well, imagine no longer, because Google Alerts allows you to do just this for all activity on the search engine that is used by well over 90 percent of the global population. Simply enter your company name and other essentials in the Google Alert system, and you will receive an email alert whenever any of those keywords appear online.

2. Conduct Brand Perception Surveys

A great way to find out what your customers think about your brand is to simply ask them. And there is no better way to collect the thoughts of a broad swath of your customer base than to conduct a survey. From mass emails to your official website, there are many ways to distribute surveys to existing and prospective customers online. In light of the busy lives that your customers probably live, keep surveys short and consider offering some sort of incentive for completing them.

3. Organize Brand Focus Groups / Online Forums

Compared with surveys, both of these options offer opportunities to get more in-depth information from a far smaller sample of your customer/audience base. Good questions to ask in brand focus groups or online forums will be similar to those asked in effective surveys, but you can probably ask far more and follow up with secondary questions for further clarification. Consider questions such as “Why do you choose this brand over others?” and “What comes to mind when you hear this brand name?”

4. Monitor Social Media

It goes without saying that the best way to interact with customers today is through social media. According to the independent social media public relations news source Regan, 33 percent of consumers prefer to connect with a business through social media. Regan goes on to identify social media as a great place to get unbiased and unfiltered feedback on perceived brand image, citing research that has counted an average of 2.1 million negative mentions of brands among US social media users on a daily basis.

5. Monitor Online Reviews

Customer review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List are also great sources of unbiased and unfiltered brand perception feedback. By tracking reviews of your company and its products/services on an ongoing basis, you can get a more complete picture of the ways your target audience interprets your transmitted brand image.

Getting professional help

If you have questions about the supreme importance of consumer brand perception or are looking to secure expert perception research services, don’t hesitate to contact a marketing professional at Bigeye. We have the experience and forward-thinking vision necessary to make perception research work for you and your company.

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Business Naming Really Is a Science – Or Is It?

Although the business naming process is far from exact, you can develop a formula to find a name that can rocket your company to success and sustain ongoing growth.

Would a rose, by any other name, truly smell as sweet? Romeo may think so in regard to his fair Juliet, but in the business world, a name can truly make or break you.

First and foremost, let’s address the obvious: a good name cannot save a bad company. A clever or interesting name may attract some consumers to a particular company, but those consumers will not stick around when they encounter significant flaws in that company’s products and/or services. Furthermore, that once “clever/interesting” name will take on a whole new meaning in the marketplace as public opinion of the company begins to decline. 

So why is a company’s name so critical to success? The answer lies in the fact that a name is so easy to instantly love or hate. First impressions are incredibly important, and so are the ways in which a company’s name initially hits the ear and/or the eye.

Everybody automatically judges a name and, furthermore, feels qualified to do so. For this reason alone, investing in an effective name makes great business sense.

So what differentiates a good business name from a bad one? Investigating this question, The Atlantic contacted marketing executive and legendary brand naming expert Hayes Roth, who could offer no universal rules for landing on the ideal name, but presented the act of business naming as a protracted process that begins in strategy and ends in practical application.

As an example, Roth, the mastermind behind the brand name BlackBerry, stresses the importance of speaking with “a familiar voice.” He adhered to this principle by choosing all one-syllable words for BlackBerry’s line of smartphones (Bold, Curve Storm, etc.). From the iPad to the iPod, Apple’s mobile products also epitomize this concept by universally beginning with a lower-case “i.”

Forbes adds to this key tactic with several other general but imperative tips for effective company naming. Consider the following four tips carefully before embarking on the business naming process. 

1. Keep it simple and catchy.

Avoid overly long and hard-to-spell names. You want your name to be eminently “googleable.” Obviously, you want to avoid any boring names, but you can easily confuse and/or repel potential customers if you choose a name that is too strange or outlandish. As Forbes puts it, ”You want your employees to be able to say where they work without hesitation, and you want your name to resonate with your target audience.” Play close attention to the way your name sounds when it is spoken and looks when it is read!

2. Use a name that conveys strategic meaning.

Although meaningless names such as “Google” can certainly catch on, in general, the name of your company should clearly convey something that is meaningful, positive and associated with the type of business that you conduct. By developing a name that has recognizable meaning with direct ties to your company, you can also cut down significantly on branding costs.

3 Don’t pick a name that could be limiting as your business grows.

Today, few people are aware that the electronics chain Best Buy formerly did business as Sound of Music. That name worked perfectly well during the early years of the company, when it primarily sold home stereo equipment. But as the company gradually expanded to offer the diverse array of products that it offers today, the original chosen name of this multinational retail giant just made less and less sense. The moral of this story? Prevent the tremendous expense and dangerous pitfalls of a complete rebrand by avoiding company names that are narrow enough to cause future problems.

4. Conduct thorough Internet and trademark searches.

When you begin to favor a particular name, it’s time to check to see if it is already in use. Although businesses with the same or similar names can conduct business simultaneously in some cases, this arrangement will almost always create significant issues. After conducting a general Internet search, check USPTO.gov to see if you can get the name trademarked or service marked.

Getting Professional Help

In light of the incredible importance of an effective company name, wise companies will often seek the help of a quality marketing agency that provides professional business naming services. If you have questions about effective naming strategies, contact a skilled and knowledgeable marketing expert at Bigeye today.

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Know Your Audience with Persona Development

You may think that you already know your target marketing audience, but without persona development, you may be shooting in the dark.

It’s marketing 101: The first step to effective branding and advertising is knowing your audience. And there is no better way to fully understand your audience than a well-crafted buyer persona.

Forbes Magazine Councils Member and contributing writer Jon Simpson defines buyer personas as “semi-fictional characters that personify your ideal customer” and called them “imperative to having accurate audience insights.”

Many business leaders deem the development of buyer personas superfluous, overconfident in their natural ability to connect with existing and prospective customers. But without comprehensive and effective persona development, critical misjudgments can easily occur. And these misjudgments can make the ultimate difference between success and failure.

The benefits of persona development

It is essential for brand strategy experts and content marketers to draft and refine effective buyer personas. No matter how busy they happen to be and how anxious they are to get on to the content creation stages of marketing campaign development process, they absolutely must make time for this key preparatory measure.

Persona development gives direction and focus to all of your marketing efforts by providing a single audience template that everyone in your organization can use when developing overall marketing strategy and spearheading specific advertising efforts. As the independent content marketing resource Content Marketing Institute puts it, “Documenting your personas, even if done quickly, is key to keeping everybody focused on the same audience.”

Persona development is particularly useful for companies with multiple stakeholders and/or team members who hold decidedly different opinions when it comes to marketing and branding strategies. By determining buyer personas that epitomize target audiences as a whole, companies can not only structure a unified marketing vision, but make all narratives involving company brand and products/services far more compelling, memorable, and ultimately effective.

From your official website and social media pages to your traditional and digital advertising efforts, all elements of your marketing outreach can (and probably will be) refined and optimized to meet the specific wants and needs of your audience as you identify them. However, by creating clearly defined buyer personas ahead of time, you can avoid the tremendous amount of time and monetary expense that go hand in hand with major redesign and redevelopment.

How to develop an effective buyer persona

Although even a rudimentary buyer persona is better than no buyer persona at all, it goes without saying that putting more forethought and care into the persona development process will inevitably yield better results. For this reason, organizations that are serious about marketing and branding success typically employ the help of a specialized persona development agency when engaging in this process.

The Content Marketing Institute breaks the development of an effective buyer persona into five practical steps. Keep in mind that each of these steps is an involved process in and of itself, requiring significant data gathering and analysis using modalities that range from general market research to customer/prospective customer interviews and surveys.

Step 1: Visualize the ideal customer.

Through extensive research, analysis, and projection, develop a single fictional customer who represents your target audience as a whole. For optimum results, go far beyond basic demographics such as gender and income level to examine the details of this customer’s professional and personal life.

Step 2: Consider that customer’s applicable wants and needs.

What are the common objectives and responsibilities of your ideal customer? What obstacles might stand in his or her way?

Step 3: Characterize that customer’s role in relation to the purchase of products and/or services.

What form does your ideal customer’s buying process take? What questions is that customer likely to ask before making a purchase?

Step 4: Consider that customer’s communication preferences.

What media channels does your ideal customer use on a regular basis? Where does he or she go to get information?

Step 5: Marry your buyer persona insights to your strategic company goals.

A great way to do this is to craft one or more engagement scenarios that take buyer personas through various prospective consumer interactions with your company.

For more information

If you want to learn more about the benefits of persona development and/or get professional assistance with the persona development process, contact a skilled and knowledgeable representative of Bigeye today. If you are looking for a persona development agency with vision, we’d love to show you what we have to offer.

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How to Take Your Brand Strategy to the Next Level in 2020

At the beginning of the new decade, we are poised on the precipice of big changes when it comes to driving brand strategy for your company.

Looking to expand your company’s brand outreach over 2020 and into the new decade? Here are just a few tips to stay ahead of the pack in a rapidly evolving marketing environment.

1. Diversify your outreach

Diversification has been a sector buzzword for quite some time, but as we progress into 2020, the advantages of spreading your brand outreach through a range of marketing channels have never been more pronounced. The bottom line is this: if you want to grow your brand and attract more customers, you must reach targeted and general customers where they are. Although social media remains a vital piece of the modern branding puzzle, if growth is your goal, you simply can’t place too much emphasis on social media alone.

The leading United Kingdom business magazine Business Matters recommends a varied branding outreach strategy, bolstered by elements that include “a well-designed website, great social media across multiple platforms, digital PR, in-person networking and email marketing.” Plus, for most companies seeking to grow its brand, traditional media outlets such as print, broadcasting, and cable channels, still play a major role.

2. Integrate consumer-facing IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) — the vast and diverse network of interrelated digital devices and smart machines that not only interact with but learn from one another — is ready to “revolutionize branding.” Or so says no less an authority than Forbes Magazine, which points to the data and control of IoT technology as a key tool for companies that have “blurred the lines between digital and brand strategy, effectively making them function as one, in many cases.”

In short, the IoT not only gives companies ample opportunity to grow and expand their branding operations, but it can be instrumental in boosting the brand unity and overall cohesion that is so key to success in the modern consumer sector.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tech-driven retail giant Amazon is positioned at the cutting edge of IoT-driven branding with network and product unifying devices such as the Amazon Echo. This year, Amazon announced three new wearable technology products (Echo Frames, Echo Loop, and Echo Buds) that promise to draw the average consumer even deeper into the IoT world.

3. Learn to use the full potential of Google to drive traffic to your virtual doorstep

Your online branding strategy may have be ambling forward with an official website and a few relatively well-managed social media pages. You may even have launched a basic search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. But if you really want connect with existing and prospective customers online, you must remain up to date with the ongoing developments of Google.

Facilitating over 90 percent of all online searches, Google is, essentially, the only search engine that truly matters. In order to make the most of Google’s tremendous potential, companies should engage a brand strategy agency with the expertise to use the search engine’s rapidly evolving policies and particular idiosyncrasies in order to optimize online content and drive SEO. 

4. Leverage the power of branded apps

Branded digital applications are also a great way to expand and solidify brand loyalty. Industry giants such as McDonald’s and Starbucks have already learned the tremendous value of these apps, which can provide tremendous insights into the buying habits of customers. On the consumer side, Forbes identifies

“incentivization and gamification” as “two tried-and-true carrots” that can make branded apps irresistible.

Starbucks’ branded app, for example, offers discounts for devoted customers, provides an easy payment method for in-store purchases, and allows for the storage of gift card credit. In short, the Starbucks app has largely replaced Starbucks loyalty cards and similar physical branding outreach products.

No matter what form your branded app takes, it can serve as a powerful centerpiece for much of your brand strategy. After all, what can identify a loyal customer faster than an app on his or her smartphone?

To learn more

For more information about managing and growing your brand over 2020 and for years to come, you should consider contacting a brand strategy agency that can address the specific needs and unique attributes of your company and the business sector in which it operates. A forward-thinking marketing firm, Bigeye can help you chart a brand strategy that can take you through the new decade.

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How to Create Environmental Branding for a Bank

If you’re not embracing environmental branding for your financial institution, you’re missing out on a key piece of the overall marketing puzzle.

Companies in the retail sector have long leveraged the power of the branded environment (incorporating an organization’s brand and the distinctive characteristics of that brand into the interior and/or exterior design of its brick-and-mortar stores). Whether it means liberally integrating the retailer’s name into physical location signage or imbuing in-store displays with the unique charm and appeal of the retailer’s brand identity, environmental branding can work wonders when it comes to driving customer loyalty and on-site sales.

The banking industry, however, has traditionally lagged far behind top retailers when it comes to leveraging the power of branded environments. This makes perfect sense considering the history of banks in the United States and elsewhere. In most communities, there was only one bank in operation. Effective branding and marketing operations in general were completely unnecessary. Customers banked with a specific organization because it was their only option, not because they preferred it over any available alternatives.

Now increasingly savvy about branding practices, the financial institutions of today are finally beginning to reverse this trend, realizing that effective branding is absolutely essential if they want to get a leg up on the competition in the modern marketplace. The creation and maintenance of branded environments should be an absolutely essential component of any banking organization’s greater marketing efforts.

If you are looking for ways to develop effective branded environments for your bank location(s), you will want to employ a marketing agency with the established expertise to address the specific wants and needs of your particular institution. The following four guidelines can get you headed in the right direction. 

1. Concentrate on relationship building in the lobby area

When it comes to building a new bank branch or remodeling an existing bank location, the design masterminds at HTG Architects suggest rethinking the fundamental purpose of your lobby area. As HTG puts it, “Co-branding can change your space from “transaction-based” to “relationship-based.” And in today’s banking world, this shift can make all the difference.”

In addition to incorporating ample on-brand elements into your lobby, HTG suggests reducing the size of banking transaction areas if it can make lobby space feel more comfortable and inviting.

2. Reflect evolving technology

Different banking organizations will inevitably target different consumer demographics, but the vast majority of todays’ customer base will respond favorably to technological innovation. This is particularly true of consumers in the modern banking sector, who tend to expect the companies with which they partner to be on the cutting edge in terms of state-of-the-art financial operations and security measures.

In order to reinforce strong technological ties, the physical design of brick-and-mortar bank branches must reflect high-tech engagement in a variety of ways. This might mean the inclusion of advanced ATM machines and smart kiosks or it might mean simply crafting on-site sign imagery and typography that is compatible with technological themes.

3. Emphasize convenience and public responsibility

Smart financial institutions will also design their buildings to not only deliver optimum customer convenience, but reinforce their commitment to public service through effective on-site messaging. Two great examples of this emphasis on respect and responsibility are ADA compliance and environmental sustainability.

All bank locations should go far beyond the mandated regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that all customers have equal access to banking processes regardless of physical or mental disability. Furthermore, bank locations should offer the latest in recycling amenities, responsible resourcing, paperless technology, and other green modalities. Remember, your physical location speaks volumes about your company’s priorities and values.

4. Consider environmental co-branding

If you really want to boost consumer convenience while engendering considerable lobby cross-traffic, you may want to look into partnering with a well-known brand from another business sector and welcoming that partner into the physical space of your bank branch(es). While traditional environmental co-branding partnerships in the banking sector have included insurance agencies, accountants, and title companies, more and more banks are incorporating comfort-inducing retail organizations such as coffee shops into their lobby areas.

For more information

To guide them through the considerable intricacies of the environmental branding process, wise companies seek out the assistance of highly trained and specialized marketing professionals. An environmental branding agency that is both forward thinking and rooted in current best practices, Bigeye can answer any questions that you might have about your bank’s practical environmental branding options.

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Using Look-Alike Modeling for Multifamily Marketing Outreach

A proven technique for expanding audience for multifamily property developers, look-alike modeling should be a key component of any advertising campaign.

Look-alike modeling defined

Look-alike modeling certainly isn’t a new technique on the modern marketing landscape, but far too many multifamily developers and apartment complex owners fail to grasp just how valuable it can be when it comes to broadening their marketing audience base and spurring overall renter conversions.

Briefly defined, look-alike modeling regards your current consumer base as a “seed audience” that can be used to cultivate a far larger audience base while mainlining highly relevant and precise target marketing practices. In other words, a skilled marketing professional will begin to create a look-alike model by analyzing your existing target audience and identifying individual consumers of exceptionally high value. The specific characteristics and behaviors of these consumers can then be used as a template in efforts to reach out to similar individuals that lie beyond the limited purview of your existing marketing efforts.

The prevalence and effectiveness of look-alike modeling

As reported in the leading sales and marketing medial outlet Business 2 Community, a 2014 study by eXelate determined that a 73 percent of American advertising agencies and 64 percent of advertisers regularly employ look-alike modeling to “enhance their targeting marketing focus.” Furthermore, among the advertising agencies that actively engage in the technique, roughly half say that it improved the overall performance of their marketing campaigns by 100 to 200 percent.

Although no other qualified marketing industry resource has released a comprehensive survey of look-alike modeling since this most recent eXelate report, it is safe to assume that the practice has only expanded and become more effective thanks to the continuing evolution of marketing standards and improvements in digital technology.

The complex nature of the look-alike modeling process

As we have previously discussed, the look-alike modeling process begins when a qualified professional isolates the most valuable members of an existing marketing audience and analyzes their defining attributes. This requires a great deal of expertise because, among other potential problems, marketers who focus on the wrong consumer attributes are bound to skew final look-alike modeling results and set the process off in a decidedly less fruitful direction.

GlobalWide Media Analytics Manager Zackary Cantor offered a perfect example of this issue in a recent article for the leading global performance marketing publication PerformanceIN. Detailing look-alike modeling work that he undertook for an apartment rental site that sought to boost overall numbers of online rental applications, he demonstrated the need to value certain consumer attributes far more than others.

While many look-alike modeling processes simply look for overlaps in general characteristics and behaviors among different consumer profiles, Cantor quickly realized that this particular model had to pay closer attention to profile attributes for home ownership. Even prospective new audience members who share many attributes in common with the ideal target consumer were “very unlikely” to submit a rental application if they showed a propensity toward home ownership.

Look-alike modeling guidelines

The intricate nature of look-alike modeling makes it truly effective only in the hands of highly experienced of digital marketing professionals. But how can you tell if your multifamily developer marketing agency has what it takes to produce the look-alike modeling results that you seek? Here are just a couple of guidelines for securing the very best look-alike modeling services available:

  • Pay close attention to any negative predictors – A strong propensity toward home ownership is only one of may potential negative predictors that can easily trump a whole host of commonalities between the most valuable members of your existing marketing audience and the expanded audience base that you want. It is absolute vital to place all data in proper context when determining consumer similarities and differences in order to identify strong negative predicators and give them the appropriate weight in your final look-alike model.
  • Insist on full look-alike model transparency – We have already examined the ways in which the underlying elements of a less than optimal look-alike modeling framework can lead to less than desirable results. If your marketing agency can’t give you a basic understanding of the predictive modeling method that they are employing on your behalf, you may want to look elsewhere for your look-alike modeling needs.

How Bigeye can help

If you’re looking for a multifamily developer marketing agency with extensive expertise in look-alike modeling and other techniques that can expand your potential customer base and drive prospective renters to your door, contact a skilled and knowledgeable Bigeye representative today.

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