Marketing is simple …
Just find out what people want and give it to them. Too simple, right? So simple, few do it… preferring to play blind target practice with their marketing dollars – the financial equivalent to handing a monkey a loaded gun!
Instead of interacting with their prospects to zero in on the sweet spot of desire, these companies hide from them. And end up blowing their brains out on failed marketing campaigns, victims of their own advertising shrapnel …
Those who insist on continuing this monkey marketing – simply aping their competitors without care or thought for the real wants and needs of their prospects – will crash and burn over the next 12 to 18 months … while savvy online marketers who understand the importance of applied research leave them in the dust.
Because in today’s brave new world of copious supply – far outstripping demand – consumers are naturally gravitating toward businesses that display unusual empathy: who listen to them … and react.
Online marketers are particularly guilty of spraying and praying …
A direct mail operation would go broke in a heartbeat doing the kinds of shotgun marketing most online marketers do. I suppose it’s the perception that email is free that’s at the root of the problem. It’s an erroneous conclusion …
Generating a database of subscribers costs time and money. And unlike offline databases that you can rent, you have very little real information about those names before you invest in them – or even after you acquire them.
Just because mailing to them is free, doesn’t mean not knowing who they are isn’t costing you a boatload of money.
I firmly believe that in the long run, the marketer who knows his or her market best wins.
So today in The Sunday Post, we’re going to look at the ins and outs of effective surveys … what they can do for your business … and how you can get them done with a minimum of fuss. I know it’s not the sexiest of subjects, but the rewards are toe-curling cool. I promise.
How simple surveys can lead to product breakthroughs …
Like anything else, a successful survey starts with an objective, or a set of objectives – the more specific those objectives the better.
Maybe you want to survey your list to gauge demand for different types of continuity programs. You’re basically asking: what kind of training and advice are you willing to pay for on a recurring basis?
I look around and I see marketers far and wide clamoring to get on the continuity bandwagon. But I don’t see a lot of innovation.
Everybody seems to be doing the same thing: sending out a newsletter, an interview, a book review, and maybe doing a special members-only live call each month.
Nothing wrong with that … but when everybody in the niche starts doing the same old sausage of the month routine, it gets a bit old. I know for a fact retention numbers are taking a nosedive.
So you’re chomping at the bit to add continuity billing to your revenue base, but you need a fresh approach.
Surveying for dummies …
The first step, of course, is developing a set of questions that gets to the core of your problem. Sounds easier than it is …
See, what ends up happening with a lot of surveys is this: They get done, and that’s the end of it. The marketer squints at the data, but doesn’t know how to interpret it, or apply it in their business. I don’t want that for you.
So when you’re working on your survey questions, put some thought into how actionable … easy to interpret … and meaningful the answers are likely to be. Great answers demand great questions. The way you ask them, to a large extent, determines the usefulness of your survey.
There are many ways of asking the same question. You can use a service called Survey Monkey, and they give you plenty of flexibility. It’s a fantastic service – cheap, easy to use … and makes executing your surveys a breeze.
You can ask simple yes/no questions … multiple-choice questions … specific data questions, and many more types of closed-end questions. The system automatically tabulates handy percentages and graphs for you.
Or you can ask open-ended questions and you’ll have to massage the data for yourself.
As a rule of thumb, I use opened-ended questions when a) I don’t have a clue what the most common answers to the question will be, and b) when I want to fish for the kinds of language people use to describe a particular problem, question, or goal that concerns my product(s).
Open-ended survey questions can be a goldmine when it comes to divining the dominant emotions your prospects have around a given subject. Taking the time to classify, quantify, and qualify the responses allows you to internalize the lingo and phraseology of the market, so you can feed it back to them in your sales copy.
Not only are you listening to them and giving them what they want. You’re telling them about it in their own language. Powerful stuff.
Which begs the question: How do you classify, quantify, and qualify responses to open-ended questions? How do you know when a particular response is relevant enough to cycle back into your marketing?
How to zero in on the sweet spot of desire that’s hidden within your target market …
Response skyrockets when your offer and sales copy resonate with the passionate majority. Open-ended questions can lead to great insights into what individuals are thinking and feeling. But they can also mislead …
You need a way to discern how widespread a given sentiment is before feeding it back into your marketing and sales copy. You also need a way to separate casual responses that are unlikely to result in purchasing behavior from serious responses that demonstrate a clear frustration with the status quo.
If you ask 100 people the typical open-ended question, such as “what’s your biggest problem, question, or goal about getting more traffic to your website?”, for example, you’re going to get 100 different answers. The first step is to go through the responses and categorize them. All of the answers that have to do with pay per click go here … all of the answers that have to do with free traffic go there … all of the answers that have to do with getting the traffic to convert go somewhere else … and so on.
The way I do this is to transfer the survey results from Survey Monkey into an Excel spreadsheet. Then I manually go through the responses, one by one. I just work my way down the column and copy and paste each response into a second spreadsheet under an appropriate heading. In a recent survey we had over 800 responses and ended up with more than 60 categories of responses.
Most of the categories ended up with just one or two responses, some had a few, and less than a handful had lots. When I was done, I had a broad sense of where people are struggling, and what they think they want.
But I also needed to get a sense of how important, urgent, and unmet those wants are.
One way to do this is to pose a follow-up closed-end question, where you ask, “How difficult has it been for you to get the help you’ve been looking for?” Actually, you turn this into a multiple-choice question, where you list “easy”, “relatively easy”, “difficult”, and “very difficult”. And Survey Monkey tallies it up.
Another way to get people to tell you what they want is to ask what I call a vision question. As an example, you ask the market to “please describe the training (both the content and the format) you feel you need most to quickly take your business to the next level.”
Your closed-end follow-up might be, “How much would you be willing to invest each month to acquire the training you just described?” And you give them several ranges of monthly spending to select.
The reason for the follow-up question in both scenarios is to help spot high quality answers. What we’re looking for are unfulfilled needs. If someone says the help they’re looking for is easy to find … or if they’re not willing to invest a reasonable amount in the training they just described as ideal, you can discount their response.
If on the other hand, they indicate that help is difficult to find, or they say they’re willing to spend good money on it, and their response is reasonably detailed, you’ve got a quality response.
On my category spreadsheet, I highlight the high-quality responses in the few columns where I’ve got a lot of responses. So now I’ve got a measure of both quantity and quality – sort of like a heat map of the market that I can use to develop new products and copy angles to try.
An important caveat …
Of course, surveys and market research are just the beginning. They simply point you to theories. And theories must be tested. What people say isn’t necessarily what they do.
But always remember, your offer is the foundational element of your marketing. Get it wrong, and the finest funnel on earth cannot save you. The most glorious castle built on sand cannot endure.
If you’re not sure about your offer, and desire some clarity on how it should be structured, this information will help you. And if you want further guidance, why not apply for a free strategy session, where we’ll walk you step by step through the offer creation process?
Until next time, Good Selling!