The early days of a startup can be scary. You have a great business model, product, and staff. But you also have a lot of questions. Are you getting your name out there? Are you uniquely positioned, or just another me-too brand? Is your marketing spending actually helping?
Traditional brand tracking would answer many of your biggest questions. But most traditional tracking approaches are optimized for the mature brand, with long surveys, large samples, and big price-tags.
Kelton has designed consumer insight tracking for companies of all sizes, so we’ve learned a lot about what type of insight work is right for young companies. Below is a guide on what to prioritize when insight gaps are big and budgets are small.
The garage years
In the truly early days of a start-up, you likely don’t have the budget for sodas, let alone consumer research. But at this early stage, it is important to get a handle on who is your ideal customer. Spend a very small amount on a few questions in an omnibus survey, gauging the purchase interest of a description of your product or service. Good omnibus surveys can cut that data by demographics like age and gender, letting you know the type of customer who will be lining up for your brand first.
Focus the [tracking] survey on marketing’s impact on awareness, consideration, and brand positioning.
A cult following
After some early traction, you’re likely to have a passionate fan base. Send surveys to your current user database, as early adopting fans will often answer these for free. This is a great way to get early understanding of your competitive positioning. How do your first customers see you as better (or worse) than competitive options? Is there anything you can improve early on before the word really gets out?
Gotta spend to earn
At some point, you’ll be ready to make the leap into spending some marketing dollars. This is when a real tracking system makes the most sense to start, so you can see the ROI of your marketing efforts and optimize changes in the future. But tracking at this stage doesn’t have to be large and unwieldy. Focus the survey on marketing’s impact on awareness, consideration, and brand positioning. You can likely pull that off in a very tight 10 minute survey, done 1-2 times a year, for less money than traditional tracking.
To make the most of your short tracker, make sure to connect the results of these surveys to your in-house data sources such as sales, web traffic, and social mentions. Kelton calls this approach “Convergent Tracking,” as we get the most complete picture of your business by tying together multiple data streams into one cohesive story.
Making a splash
Now you’ve made a name for yourself and you are being noticed by the big guys. This is when tracking finally should expand to the traditional 15-20 minute survey. This longer survey, done 2-4 times a year, will allow you to get a more refined view of your brand’s promise, give you a closer read on competitive threats, and will give you space to explore future concepts to expand your business.
This is also when your tracker should expand to integrate a wider set of insight sources. Go beyond leveraging in-house data sources to include qualitative and Cultural Insights tools. These more-exploratory tools can ‘future proof’ your tracker, uncovering emerging consumer trends that can be added as fresh questions to your tracker.
Kelton designs custom tracking systems that span all of these shapes and sizes, so if you want to learn more about options give us a call. But until then, make sure the guys in the garage have enough soda for the upcoming rollout. Priorities are priorities, after all.