Forecasting Business Success Through the Lens of the Product and the Brand
While you can't predict the future, you should be sure you're including all the factors that will affect your company.
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Good marketers conduct very thorough analyses when doing market research, product testing, branding perceptions and, of course, forecasting. Big businesses, especially those that are publically traded, spend significant time forecasting sales and measuring results against projections.
And while you may not have a board of directors or "The Street" asking you for a forecast, it's important for small-business owners and entrepreneurs to also project ahead so that they can plan accordingly.
Related: 6 Ways to Make Financial Forecasts More Realistic
Now, I'm not going to share sophisticated forecasting models with you here -- the true analytics vary by industry and category. But there is a mindset that I want you to adopt that will put you in the habit of continually forecasting for what lies ahead. And like all of our other topics in this series, we will take a look at that through the lens of both the product and the brand.
Forecasting the product (or service)
To manage your business effectively, you should understand the factors that will affect your product sales and plan accordingly. Anticipate their impact and map out a sales forecast that takes them into consideration.
If you are a real estate agent, for example, the kinds of factors that would affect your sales would be issues such as interest rates, changes in rental pricing, availability of new construction and the changing demographics of the area you serve. You should project out your anticipated home sales (and your resulting commission) as a result of these factors and how they may or may not be changing.
Forecasting the brand
Looking at your business forecast through the lens of just the product or service only paints half of the picture. How your customers and potential customers perceive your brand, relative to others in the same market, can have tremendous effect on your sales forecast.
Related: Sales Forecasting -- by Reps, at Least -- Is Dead
As a real estate agent, your reputation (or your "brand") can have a tremendous effect on not only returning customers but also on new prospects as well. You business will thrive or dive based on your reputation so you should consider all of the things that could enhance or damage it. The reputations of other agents in your market can also affect your forecast, as you compete in the same arena for customer attention. Brand perceptions can be equally as impactful, if not more, on how well your sales progress.
All of this talk is only good if you do something about it by putting this analysis into action. Outline the factors that affect your forecast from both a product and a brand perspective and then develop an action plan for how you will make sure they affect your business positively, factor by factor.
Then, and only then, will you be forecasting for success.
Related: Startup Business Forecasts Are Not Black Magic, Just Smart Business