By Scott Wallace on February 16, 2022

Time for a check-up?

No, I am not talking about your annual physical or dental check-up (although those are appointments you do not want to miss).

I am talking about doing a rigorous check-up of your own business. An “outside in” clear eyed inspection. Not as an owner, but as a customer.

Yes, do some serious role playing here, and “shop” your own business. It may be revealing what you learn.

Start from the beginning as if you were about to actually shop for your product or service. Most folks today immediately go to Google. Some enter the name of the product or service category, some who have been thinking about it may even enter the name of your Brand or Company.

After a Google search, a new customer often goes to your website. It may have been some time since you built out your website, but it is worth viewing with fresh eyes. How does it look, is it well organized, is it easy to find what you are looking for, does it tell your unique story in a clear and compelling way? How about the design elements (both for your logo and your product(s)). Do you have good use of distinctive graphic elements or visuals, with just enough content—and the ability to get what you were looking for in two clicks? The average time spent on a website is less than a minute! If your website is full of engaging and interesting stuff about who you are and what you do, you may get visitors to spend a couple of minutes.

OK, good, you have made the first step as a new customer. You searched, you visited, you learned. Now, how about your product story. Again, be honest. You are doing your best to win new customers here.

Is it clear who is the ideal customer for your product? And what are the unique points of difference vs. competitive products? And some proof points for your claims. If you have some market research or customer survey data that support your differentiation, all the better. Case studies, customer testimonials—new customers who are shopping and comparing providers do pay attention to this stuff.

Next, time to shop! If you have your own ecommerce store established, try it out. Seriously! Browse the products, add one or more to the cart, see what the customer experience is really like. Do you allow check out as a guest, or do you require folks to register as a user? And, if so, is it just to save time for a repeat shopping visit? Or is there an incentive to do so, like being enrolled in a loyalty program, or getting a new customer discount?

For many of you, shopping will require a trip to the store. Here is where it really can get interesting. For most consumer product businesses, retail stores still generate the majority of sales. Since you are the owner, or one of the top executives, you likely know exactly what aisle to go down to find your product(s). Change it up, and visit a store that you visit less frequently, where you have to try to locate your Brand.

You have made it to the store shelf where your product is stocked. Step back for a second and try to experience it as a new potential customer. Does your package design stand out from the thousands of items in that aisle of the store? Is your package labeling clear and informative? How about the package itself? Any value-add features (product or package) that your competitors have that you do not? Any new competitive products that have been recently introduced? And how is your shelf position? Is it eye level or on one of the top three shelves, or are you placed lower where the shopper must stoop to find you?

How about secondary promotional displays in store on your way to the front end check out stations? You can always learn from seeing what the larger Brands are doing, particularly around peak shopping occasions or holidays.

I bet that you picked up on some things that you had not seen before. Especially since you were doing this exercise as a “new customer.”

Most business owners and executives have people on their teams to handle this kind of thing. It is just good to see it for yourself, unfiltered, like it really is. Not the “walk down the rose garden.”

We are not quite done yet, even though you are now back in the comfort of your office. Your next and most important task is to do the assessment. Any areas of improvement that you noticed? And in what order of priority? Any areas of advantage that can potentially be better leveraged? What might you consider for longer term horizons, especially if it relates to the product?

Lastly, pat yourself on the back. You did what outside consultants would charge you for. Finish up with what the outsiders would do for you. Look in the mirror and be honest. What would you tell yourself, what kind of report card would you get, what feedback would you offer?

Yes, you’re the boss. Listen to what that mystery shopper has to say. Customers rule!

At Forge Brand Works, we relish the opportunity to be your guide and partner for a Brand checkup. Our proprietary process helps you differentiate your brand, strengthen team chemistry and focus on actions that move the needle. And because time matters, we deliver transformation in weeks, not months.

Take the first step to a more successful business today.

  1. Hit “LET’S TALK” to schedule a free 30-minute discussion. No pressure – we promise.
    2.    We’ll provide real-world case studies showing the process in action.
    3.    If we’re a fit, we finalize details and get started!


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