New Year, New Clients: 11 Questions to Guide Brand Discovery

Every year marketing budgets turn over. Every year has the potential to bring new clients to your marketing business. However, any branding challenge presented can be misaligned if the company is not in touch with their consumers.

After receiving client information, the best way to understand if they are on the right track is to conduct consumer research. There are many ways to get at what your brand means to consumers, but the best way to find out is to ask them what they think.

But how do you get the type of insight you need? A great way to conduct consumer research is through focus groups. Focus groups include 6 to 8 people discussing a similar topic. Beware of group think, where one individual sways the group or dominates the conversation. While it does happen, setting ground rules with the group can help allay that concern. Additionally, focus groups are great for topics that are comfortable for discussion in front of others. If your brand is more sensitive to talk about, it may be a good idea to conduct these questions in a one on one setting.

Tips on conducting your focus group:

  • Choose people from your target audience - you may segment them if you have a large number of people participating. For example, you may want to split customers and potential customers.
  • Record your session- Inform them that you will be recording the session. This will help recall for later presentations and allow your team to collect direct quotes, which may have more clout when presenting your findings to your client.
  • Keep the setup comfortable - Make sure your group is settled in and comfortable. An uncomfortable audience is unlikely to yield insightful answers.
  • Set guidelines- Let people know that there is no right answer, they may say what they are thinking. Also, ask them to conduct themselves respectfully if others disagree with their opinion.
  • Use funneling questions, from general to more specific, and to ask questions they may have never thought about before.

Start at an industry level in order to remove any preconceived biases they may have against your brand in particular, or to keep brand opinions from coloring the rest of the answers.

Industry discovery

Who do you think are the main players in [insert industry]?

Understanding who is top of mind to your targeted consumer is key to brand positioning. For example, if your brand is not listed then marketing may want to drive more customer awareness.

How would you describe the brands lists? What do you associate with each brand?

Get an understanding of the other players in your industry and the associations attached to them. Make sure at this point to ask follow up questions like why they have that particular association. Asking about associations may bring up places they noticed the brand, like advertisements, sponsorships, and product placement.

What brands, if any, do you purchase?

While you hope they all purchase your brand, if they don't it will bring extra illumination on why customers are going to a competitor. Also, if you have a more popular product, you can potentially conduct two research groups and have one be customers and one be potential customers.

What leads you to purchase an item in this category? How often does this happen?

Learning more about customer behavior can guide targeting and media placement. For example, your product may be one they think about on the way to work, or it might be a light night indulgence. Either will dictate a different time and place for advertising to them.

Why [x brand] in particular?

See if a different type of catalyst drives consumers to choose your product over the one in the category. In this question, if there is no difference, there may be an opportunity to help guide consumers to your product.

Next, move on to brand discovery to learn more about the particular of the brand you represent.

Brand discovery

How would you describe [x brand]?

If they have already described it in the first questions, feel free to skip this question or see if they have any additional associations.

Describe someone who would shop at [x brand]?

Uncover any difference between who shops at the brand, and who customers perceive shop at the brand. If the perception does not match up with reality, maybe showcasing a customer in the upcoming campaign or working with a sponsor to drive brand image.

If [x brand] had a spokesperson, who would it be and why?

If the brand has a spokesperson, asking this questions will help see if they are having any traction with consumers. This may also uncover additional associations with your brand.

What would you personify [x brand as]? Describe [x brand] as if it were a person.

If a spokesperson is less enlightening, customers may be ready to transform your brand into a person. Is your brand fun, thinks too much of itself, outgoing, or unattainable? Personifying the company's brand can help clarify consumer's opinions and perceptions.

Who do you think are the main competitors to [x brand]?

This question will give the marketing team a great idea of who consumers think their greatest competitors are. This may shed light on if your competitors are not what your client expects. For example, a barrier or competitor may be spending time with family and not having time to shop rather than choosing another competitor from the category.

Why do you buy from [x brand]? Why don't you buy from [x brand]?

If there is a specific reason they do not choose your brand, this may become the focus of the campaign. Addressing their primary concern may help customers overcome their objection.

Addressing issues

If there are any issues uncovered during the course of the focus group, this may be a great time to follow up. If the client had any additional concerns they wanted to address, covering them at the end will allow more focused attention since the group has already been thinking about your brand for awhile.

If there are no pressing issues, you can also conduct a final activity to help shed light on your brand, like:

  • Draw a picture of your personified brand interacting with others
  • Present the group with magazines and ask them to cut out what images they associate with the brand to make a collage (this can be used as a powerful example to the client of what customers associate)
  • Write down one word you would use to describe [x brand]
  • Find a photo within the magazines that helps describe how you feel when you engage with [x brand] and its products

Your new client will be impressed you uncovered or verified information about their brand, and you'll have the benefit of additional customer insight.

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