Is your brand delivering on its promises?
For a consumer, the failure of a brand to meet its promises is normally a bitter pill to swallow. Therefore, the onus is on businesses to monitor the gulf between perception and reality. Some have even turned ‘gap analysis’, which taps into consumer frustrations, into a nice little earner – think Uber and Airbnb.

Don’t always believe your own PR
Many marketers think nothing of spending plenty of hard earned budget on researching the best methods for attracting and converting prospects. Yet, fewer seem to invest time or money in evaluating and measuring their delivery performance.

So how do you analyse the gap? There’s only one way to get a feel for the gap between perception and reality and that’s by doing some external research. It might be hard to take, if the going gets a bit tough. But often the negative responses will reveal the branding and marketing gold that will give your business a kick-start. To get a hold of some external, impartial advice, consider implementing a system such as NPS (Net Promoter Score). And whatever you do, avoid internal probes. They’re tantamount to useless, as they generally only uncover messages the business owner wants to hear.

Look for opportunities from your reviews and be prepared to adapt
Consumers are spoilt for choice – not only in the products they consume, but how they make purchases. One of our leading FMCG brands currently has 23 variations of what is fundamentally the same toothpaste! We all expect perfect matches. And why not, as everyone from the big four banks to our local café, are racing to win our attention. In this environment, there’s no shortage of consumers willing to tell you what’s wrong with your service. Take advantage of this feedback to uncover new opportunities.

If you don’t take advantage, someone else will.
One-to-one marketing is now a reality thanks to the terabytes of available data on consumer behaviour. It’s one thing to have access to the data, but quite another to interpret, and act on it. Take the financial services sector for example. The banks have made enormous changes resulting in increased convenience for consumers. Yet, many institutions are simply not geared to delivering one-to-one relationships, so they struggle to deliver on their promise of a personalised tailored approach.

Thus, the small business banking sector is being set upon by disruptors such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lenders. The total volume of alternative finance options for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has grown from US$24.22 million in 2013 to US$348.37 million in 2015. By the end of this year, it’s fair to expect the online finance market will have mushroomed further. In fact, recent CoreData research for Bankwest found more than 20% of SMEs are either currently using alternative sources of finance, or are considering it, within the next 12 months.

What’s driving the shift to alternative sources of funding? SMEs are neglected by many financial services because their revenue potential is lacking and they represent a greater risk than the vast retail market or large business banking customers. However, as the financial disruptors gain traction, traditional banks will be forced to react.

Mind the gap!
To ensure you’re building a solid bridge between brand perception and reality, consider introducing research as part of your customer feedback loop. At the same time, make customer experience part of everyone’s key performance indicators (KPIs) within your firm – just like profit and revenue. You’ll trim down the gap between perception and reality by seeking customer feedback – and this research will generate opportunities for innovation and growth.