Knowing exactly what your clients and prospects are thinking is a big part of the marketing game. Many small business owners think they know their customers want, but gut feeling or even a blind eye, is the primary tool of choice for drawing these conclusions.
Of course the best way to really know what a market thinks about something is to ask. Run the idea up the old flagpole and see what kind of response you get. The Internet is spawning a whole new set of tools that can empower the smallest of businesses to tap the collective wisdom, or least collective opinion, of the masses when trying to make even the simplest business decisions.
Online surveys have become a powerful tool for the small business. By asking your clients everything from how much you should charge to what’s the best color for your logo, you can effectively test your assumptions before you push something out to the market.
Surveys are also a great way to monitor how you are doing in the eyes of your customers. Creating simple satisfaction survey and serving it up to each individual customer allows you to find holes in your customer service and collect comments, good and bad, from the street.
There are stand alone tools such a SurveyMonkey or and SurveyGizmo offer tremendous functionality for a fairly low cost.
Planning what your readers would like to hear more about in your next five newsletter issues is as simple as proposing topics in a survey. Then you can better prepare the content your readers want to read the most.
Journalists love survey results and will often take great interest in the results of a survey conducted by an industry expert – that means you! Conducting some basic research about trends and habits in your industry is a great way to add some expert status to your brand and could land your results in a publication or two about your industry.
Sharing your survey results with prospects is a great way to help educate them on important information that may impact their buying decisions.
Bloggers have long seen the value of the interaction a good survey can generate, so there are lots of survey widgets available for blogging platforms like WordPress and TypePad as well. Survey Gizmo's Wordpress plugins is very popular.
Social networking sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn also facilitate question and answer dialogue and are quickly becoming tremendous research hubs for marketers.
Polling your market and making better informed marketing decisions has never been easier, more necessary or more affordable.