Stop wasting your money on bad brand tracking

by Lynsey Carolan

Chances are it’s old, it’s tired, it’s been running for many many years. You’re bored, your agency is bored, it’s churning out the same old stuff. But you daren’t turn it off, because, well, it’s your tracker!

Welcome to the brand tracking loop of doom: You know you’re not getting the insight you need. You know you need to change things up. But you worry that if you do, the data will change. So you stick with it for just-one-more-wave

It’s time to start asking serious questions about what you’re getting for your money.

We get it, we’ve been there on both sides of the fence. From a client-side perspective, it takes a lot of bravery to make the move to a new methodology or a new supplier. It can be hard work making that change in terms of the set-up, the internal conversations, the comparisons of one process vs another and the fear of the metrics moving. So, it often feels safer to stay where you are. But it really isn’t.

The issue is older brand trackers tend to be pricey, clunky and time consuming. They use older, more traditional data collection methods, and chances are they’ve been stuck with the same agency for the entire time meaning there’s unlikely to be new news, fresh insight or fresh interest in the data. They trundle on and on and on like a train to nowhere.

Newer brand trackers can be more cost effective and can adapt alongside the business. They give you the chance to shake things up a bit. Do you really need to track every quarter, month? Probably not. Do you really need to ask every customer, every time? Probably not. Do you really need allllll of those questions? Probably not. Do you need to spend all of that money? Probably not. Do you really need a 2 hour debrief and a 150-slide deck? Absolutely not.

But we know there’s a lot of things riding on the brand tracking data, making people feel nervous about changing it up; It’s probably reported frequently at Board. There’s probably a load of historical data that you’d be afraid to lose. Bonuses could even depend on it. And there’s a natural fear factor and reticence for change within organisations that have come to depend on their tracking for ongoing ‘insight’ (which, let’s face it, is often just 2-3 key scores in an overall clunky and expensive machine).

However, we’ve been there and done it and seen the benefit of doing so. Here’s some tips for starting to ask the relevant internal questions to kick off the process for change:

  • Question what it’s really telling you. How are your internal teams using the data? Are they really use it to drive decisions or are they taking the headline scores, giving themselves a pat on the back and moving onto the next thing. Is it calling out areas of challenge? Is it highlighting the reasons competitors are making an impact on your target segments? Is it making you stop and think on a regular basis?
  • Question the process. Could it be slicker, faster, react quicker to changes in the market? Could we have some fresher insight if we changed up the content, the process, the people? Are we even speaking to the right target audience anymore?
  • Question the investment. Are we getting best bang for buck here? Is there a better way of doing this? What are others doing in similar roles in other companies?
  • Highlight & educate that there’s another way. Options exist for both a slow transition or a ripping the band aid off and starting the process again full refresh. Do you really need to compare your figures today with figures from 5 years ago? Why? The world was an entirely different place back then and largely irrelevant for forward looking organisations. Our advice is to start afresh, in line with the world, the consumer and the industry in front of you today.

Take the leap with an agency that offers:

Partnership: The best tracking comes from an agency that works in partnership with you and will keep you in safe hands. But a partner agency will also challenge you – making sure you know the scores that have changed, encourage you to adapt and change and work with you to make sure that your tracking is continually relevant for your brand.

Expertise: At Spark we’re experts in measuring and exploring brands, on a global scale, with a particular passion for brand tracking. We never start a new tracker without doing some ground-work first. An upfront piece of work to understand what’s really driving what in terms of the main brand metrics, allowing us to ditch elements of the tracker that just aren’t doing anything. This involves looking at the current tracker and seeing what’s been happening in the data, as well as the market and understanding what else can be tracked.

Bespoke solutions: We’ll also immerse ourselves in your world – understanding your brand challenges, your segments, your overall plans for the years ahead. From here we align the tracking with what you’re trying to achieve as a business in order to drive and input into ongoing strategy. Specialist agencies within our wider group – the Audience Collective – also are on hand to support with brand planning & creative strategy, SEO, digital solutions and services across the entire marketing mix.

We’re always happy to Talk Tracking – feel free to bounce things off us, ask for our opinions or even send us a brief…

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