I have never been inside nor driven a Robin Reliant, Aston Martin DB9, Lamborghini or Subaru so can only offer my perception of these brands. Whilst personal, my perceptions directly affect my potential buying decisions and these perceptions have been created as a direct result of adverts, editorials, websites, reviews and peer commentary.
There are a number of techniques that can be used to Reveal the nature, market position and perceptions people have of a business. These include traditional market research, perception studies, brainstorming and background research. All have their place but I am a particular lover of perception studies because they tell you what people think and feel about you. They go beyond customers, they are emotive and provide some truly insightful results.
What makes a successful perception study? Perhaps this is best answered by focusing on the differences between a customer service study and perception study. For customer service you are looking at specific responses and opinion of services delivered. A customer service survey is very specific BUT primarily focused on the past – it can be used to affect the future but often does not even represent the present state of a business.
A perception study looks at the here and now. It focuses on what people think about your business, even if they have had no reason to work with you. Perceptions affect an individual’s desire to approach you / consider working with you in the first place and are therefore a reflection on brand, communications and message.
Here are a couple of suggestions for great perception studies:
Use interviews rather than feedback forms to truly “get under the skin of the responses”.
Interview targets, potential targets, lapsed targets, lost targets (those that declined to work with you), board director, staff, stakeholders, suppliers… even your mum!
Develop a series of questions most likely to draw opinions and discussions.
Consider all the words used throughout the responses – look for those that are used regularly, those that you use and others do not.
Ask about your engagement and the level of communications – do you reach out to them often enough, too often, too little?