While it might seem like brands just throw their marketing programs out into the public to see what might stick, there is a lot of testing and validation leading up to the release of a new product or “advertising” campaign. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. There are those campaigns where we’ve all scratched our heads and said to ourselves, “Why did they do that?”
A big part of a marketer’s job is to continually make sure that the programs being created are working with stated business objectives. This should also be true of small-business owners and entrepreneurs as well, where there is even more limited time, money and resources.
You should continually make sure that the programs you create are working with your stated business objectives.
So let’s start right there: What are your objectives? What are you trying to accomplish from a business standpoint and from a marketing standpoint? What is it that you want your product or service to do and how do you want your customers to engage with your brand?
These are big questions that require a lot of thoughtful planning.
You need to know your goals before you can start any kind of business program and you need to create a testing and validation plan to make sure you are meeting your objectives from both a product and a brand perspective.
I don’t want to scare you away, but it’s actually double the work of what you might be doing now. Allow me to explain.
Once you’ve established what you want to accomplish from a product standpoint, you need to create a testing protocol that will make sure you are on the right track. This validation plan should examine things such as product attributes that your customers need as well as how well your product (or service) delivers on them. You’ll want to do that prior to developing the product and then again afterwards to see if you were indeed successful.
Product use tests, customer satisfaction surveys and feature-to-feature competitive analyses should be standard tools of the trade for validating your products to make sure you are accomplishing your business goals.
Testing and validating your product is only half of the equation. You also need to examine if your brand is delivering on your goals as well. Once you determine the kind of brand you want to embody and the kind of emotional benefits you want to offer your customers, testing and validation will also serve you well in making sure you are on track. Here’s where usage and attitude studies, one-on-one interviews and perceptual mapping will help you become and maintain the brand you’ve planned.
While this column in my series on products vs. brands certainly isn’t meant to provide statistical methodologies in testing and validation, I do hope it’s opened your mind as a small-business owner and entrepreneur that you need to look at your marketing plans and your results from two perspectives -- the product and the brand. Then you’ll have the complete picture on how well your business is doing.