Thank you to all who participated in the short survey. Do you want to know what you think of me? Have a look below for the feedback and summary. The sample size was 43. For the sake of clarity and emphasis I will round the ratios. (NOTE: A few late entries came in, but did not alter the substance.)
WHY DID I NEED TO KNOW?
In a business like this, constant reinvention is required. As a rule of thumb, a good consultant will earn 50% of revenue from products/services that did not exist 3 years ago. (Some would argue.) That suits me fine - I like change and mixing things up and I have created several successful and unsuccessful products/services over the last 7 years.
Secondly, business has been quieter in the last six months, and I could not put my finger on why. that might be so. (Given that we do a lot of work in retail turnarounds, the GFC worked to our advantage somewhat.) I wondered if people understood what I offered as much as understood what my brand stood for.
Thirdly, and most importantly, I have found two polar opposite responses when I engaged with people:
Response 1: Some people had an expectation of getting free/cheap services work and did not seem to value what we do as a business. (One recent example is where we changed a retailer's sales trend from -31% to +8%. After completion of the engagement, we did not even get a thank you. (The supplier paid for the intervention.) One of the consultants we sometime work with was offered $20 cash-in-hand.
Response 2: On the other hand, some people may write to me and say things that seem to suggest that we are on some pedestal and even unapproachable - and sometimes even say that we only work for the big end of town. (We do focus on working with the supply chain (landlords/brands/wholesalers,) but not exclusively. I would hate to think that we are perceived as too high-end or too expensive etc. Worst of all, we very much believe we are approachable -- to anyone.
So we wanted to find out what you really think.
The audience is almost evenly split 55% Retailers and 45%
View of the Brand (Dennis Price/ Ganador)
I have summarised the range of responses into three broad categories: edgy, expert and informative. Those three categories form a natural hierarchy from most exciting to somewhat bland. That is, the majority of respondents described Dennis/Ganador using words like ‘interesting, provocative, makes you think, different’ etc. I have used the label EDGY to capture those responses.
Another 30% used words like expert/ specialist/ consultant/ adviser. These are also positive associations but from my point-of-view, do not discriminate my brand sufficiently. (It is rather generic.)
The rest are what I would consider fairly dull associations such as provide information, provide news etc. And of course there were two respondents who had negative brand perceptions. (‘Ignorant’ and ‘self-serving’.)
I would have been happy with more negative perceptions because it at least it demonstrates some cut-through; but of course ‘not knowing your stuff’ has no positive value. One thing to note is that many people who would hold negative perceptions of Dennis/Ganador brand would NOT bother to complete the survey.
Digging deeper into these differences, an interesting fact emerges. Within each category (retailer, brand, service provider etc) around 75% of the responses would be classified as ‘edgy’. However, amongst the independent retailer group (about 40% of the respondents) only 39% used the same type of descriptors.
This means that a minority of this cohort (independents) used those same descriptors. I find this particularly interesting. (With a bigger sample it may smooth out a little, but probably not much.) The independents either described my brand using words like ‘expert’ (27%) or informative and both negative responses were within this group.
There are two explanations: Either more than half the Independent Retailer cohort does not recognise/appreciate the essence of my brand correctly and almost everybody on the outside does; OR I am fooling the suppliers/brands etc and more than half the Independents are 'seeing through me.'
Your biggest business need
I have classified the range of responses as per this image below. Upon closer reflection there are really only two categories of needs.
- Growing the Business 63%
- Running the Business 37%
What surprised me was what was NOT there. Only one person mentioned online and another mentioned online marketing. I would have expected a greater emphasis/issue around the adoption of technology and going multi-channel.
What does all this mean?
The reason I did this exercise are explained above: I was curious to see if my branding efforts have paid off over the years. I have certainly wanted to position the business as leading-edge in terms of thinking, but contrarian and different – not the same old, same old.
My reasoning is that:
(a) most businesses will be familiar with ‘same old same old’ and that in time when you need change or assistance you will need someone who is at the forefront and thinks differently about the challenges and,
(b) it suits my personality. Because we always intended to trade to as a ‘boutique’ consultancy, our brand had to be authentic and could only be so if it aligned closely with the individuals in the business. (And it is safe enough because I do have a business partner that can pull me in line when I am too close to the edge…)
So I can be assured that my brand perceptions are at least on the right track: who do you go to when you need new/fresh/different strategies/solutions/skills?
If I want to do business with you, then I must focus on how you can grow/develop your business. For instance; we have not renewed our RTO license because we found that demand for training was declining and that the way in which the government curriculum was focused on compliance and not performance. It makes sense that this type of training is not valued as it does not clearly contribute towards growth. (Training programs focused on new selling and persuasion techniques on the other hand are more popular.)
THE GOOD NEWS
You need strategies, skills, systems = SOLUTIONS to help you grow your business. (Or jump the curve as we like to call it.) That is what we do and that is more or less what you need.
THE BAD NEWS
We seem to be positioned more as an information provider (albeit interesting, different & provocative). Information is not a solution - so we have to work harder at clarifying our offer.
Thanks again for taking your precious time to contribute.
If you have any comments about the interpretation and findings - please comment below.