If you want to survey your audience…you may have sent out an email to your small list asking for feedback.
How about asking someone to fill out a “short” survey?
What was the response? Has it been less than responsive?
Unless you've already have an extremely active and engaged group of people following you, you have likely experienced the SAME DARN THING.
I know I have…and that's why I believe the survey is dead.
But before you get yourself all worked up and tell me how YOUR last attempt to survey your audience actually DID work, let me qualify that statement a bit.
Here's where the survey doesn't work pretty consistently:
- If you have a list that you haven't really established a connection with
- If you have a list that never communicates with you anywhere
- If you have a list that doesn't seem to care enough to give you their feedback
If any of the above conditions exist for you – then you're going to need to find a new way to survey your audience, because it's likely not going to work for you.
Even if you have friends or family on your list – who care about you – they aren't going to care enough or even get why it's important for them to answer you.
But we know that surveying our audience is crucial to finding out what they want, what they need, and what they are struggling with.
So how can we revive the survey? How can we make a tool that no one is paying attention to WORK?
The story of Fearless Launching
Get this – one of the first things I have people do in Fearless Launching is “survey” their audience. I provide a few ways to do surveys and then send people on their merry way.
Uh-oh… within days usually a high percentage of people come back with the story that they aren't getting any responses.
Immediate frustration – roadblock – great, now what do I do?
What naturally started happening in our secret clubhouse was a brainstorm of different ways of getting people to share with you …
A few people sent personalized videos to each and every new subscriber… very cool but not scalable… but if you've got a few people joining every week, you can do this to build that personal connection so necessary for people to care.
A few people added the “what are you struggling with?” to their email autoresponders. This brought either still no response or a landslide of lengthy stories of struggle into people's inboxes… a great way to encourage people to share, but still not the strongest or most proactive way to get info.
And then – out of all the discussions, I discovered the most revolutionary, hands down BEST way to find out what people want and need…and what they struggle with.
This is gonna crush you because it is so easy to do.
And yet – we forget how easy it is to do this one thing.
The Alexander Graham Bell Method
Also known as the “Call people and ask them” Directive…
1. Pick a few people from your list – and try to be picky. Find people who do email you once in awhile, who HAVE left comments or share your social media messages.
2. Email them inviting them to get on the phone or Skype with you. Say that you need their help and you'd be willing to give them a little help in exchange for answering a few questions on the phone with you. Get a little research done, give a little strategy in exchange.
3. Get on the phone, Skype, hangout. It does not matter.
Pick the people who are showing up now. If it's 5 people – great. If no one is responding, pick 5 people at random who LOOK like they get what you're upto.
Record the calls – have them transcribed – take notes.
This is where you'll find everything you need to create, launch, market to the people who already follow you and want to learn from you.
It's in having REAL CONVERSATIONS WITH PEOPLE.
This technique trumps all surveys in my opinion. Sure you can't scale it and do as many, but you sure can get detailed feedback, information, and most importantly, make the connection.
The Method In Action
I'll come clean and say that before the first launch of Fearless Launching, I didn't have a fully fleshed out customer avatar.
I just decided to approach the launch as honestly as I could, show my personality, share my knowledge and hope that the right people showed up.
And MANY OF THEM DID. (thank goodness for that!)
But I still didn't know them!
So – I took about 5 of that initial group of 20 and had hour long Skype sessions with each of them to ask them about themselves, their businesses, and their lives.
I even turned one of them into my main customer avatar for the program. Of course, I embellished a bit, pulled in some of the information from the other case studies, but by the end of the exercise, I KNEW who my customer was…
And each round since then has gotten more focused… each time there were fewer of those near misses that generally show up no matter how clear your marketing and positioning is.
Make The Call & Survey Your Audience Today
Even if you have no one on your list, I LOVE to use this method and may work for you if you want to survey your audience (and just get to know them as humans)!
Here's how it works…pick people you think are likely to like what you offer and ask them if you can Skype with them, ask them some questions…and make sure to give them something in return…some of your time just for them.
If you've got a program already running – grab 5-6 every few months or a few times per year to check in on “who” is hanging around and what they need from you.
This is an ongoing exercise that will fill your research bin faster and more completely than just a survey.
Try it out right now. Find 3 people who you can talk to and schedule time to chat with them NEXT WEEK.
Go in with a list of questions that you can ask each one – but let the conversation be open to go in different directions.
Conversations lead to relationships… when then down the line will lead to sales and you serving a group of people with EXACTLY what they told you they needed.
Want to learn more about reaching the right people during your first or next launch?
In my free masterclass: The 4-Part Framework For Your Profitable & Life-Changing Launch, I will walk you through 4 phases you must complete in order to have a successful launch of your online course or coaching program. Save your spot here.
Now…Leave a comment below to letting me know when you've chosen your first 3 people and set up times to talk to them!
You are smart, Anne Samoilov! This is how you hooked me for life. Little did I know that you wanted information from me in order to serve your clients better, what I experienced is an amazing hour of your attention which was and continues to be instrumental in getting me where I am today. (hanging over the precipice of actually offering my own product online, Lord help me.) Funny how making a phone call seems old fashioned. I am going to use this advice and call each of the 10 people who have signed up for my beta course. Thank you as always for your wisdom and your support.
Joyce M. Washington says
I’m recrafting one of my service offerings and this is EXACTLY what I’m doing (I did create a survey and it’s not getting any traction but the interview invites are getting some traction. I’ve already scheduled a few appointments for next week (and some for a month from now). Yippee.
Love this post! This is exactly what I am struggling with in this moment.:-) And, personally, I HATE surveys & will not take them. BUT….a brief conversation with someone where I get to say what I really need (instead of multiple choice questions that don’t fit my business)…I say YES to that!
Thanks for this!
Exactly what I needed right now! Thank you!
Dr. Susan Bernstein says
I love your pragmatism, Anne, and honesty. Shoot, I thought I’d lose my marbles with surveys that no one answered. Or the “fringes” in my community would answer. Over the past two weeks, I’ve been emailing people in my community, or people I’d like to be in my community, and asking them for their help, and promising some coaching about their situations as a thank you. What’s been amazing? They LOVE the questions, because the questions make these people THINK and get to know themselves. They’ve thanked me just for the questions. And then I have deep insights into their situations and give them coaching they’d never have expected. Works beautifully! Most of us like to talk…a welcome break from the “screens” of our lives. Thank you for this wisdom!
This is great, I’m on vacation next week but am definitely going to pick 4 to have a real conversation with, the following week. i cant wait 🙂 This is authentic communication, I love this idea! Thanks so much for sharing!
Anne Samoilov says
Kristen! You are so funny – you know …I’ll admit to just enjoying your company too! xoAnne
Anne Samoilov says
This is smart Joyce. As much as I’d like to stay in my cave and make things that I like and think others like…sometimes you all have different ideas about what you need. I love pushing myself out of the comfort zone of texting, and sending FB messages, and Surveys… this is good ‘ole fashioned communication! xoAnne
Anne Samoilov says
Nowwww… who’s on your list to call first?
Anne Samoilov says
You are very welcome Susan. And well said!
Great advice, Anne. Thank you very much.
I just tried the survey thing with my newsletter people and as you might have guessed, it didn’t work. So, I emailed a few of them directly and asked them personally if they wouldn’t mind taking 5 minutes. Those people did take my survey but even with an offer of a Skype chat to help them with their issues, it was a tough sell. Part of the problem, is that people feel as though they are so busy they don’t even want to commit to freebie help if it’s going to take time out of their day. The issue may be that those on my email list aren’t my ideal customers and this is something I’m working through before I launch any kind of product. Ugh!
Stephanie Watanabe says
Thanks for this super simple and no-brainer strategy Anne! In the age of digital everything, I feel like people are craving personal 1-on-1 attention and contact, with a LIVE human being. This makes so much sense.
I’ll definitely be doing this post-launch (I’m launching in 5 days) and on-going throughout the year.
Thanks for this article. You may not remember, but I reached out to you once (2012, I believe) about webinars. We had never interacted before. You offered to lend me Lewis Howe’s new book & did so. I so appreciate your amazing generosity and still do.
I agree with you wholeheartedly: person-to-person will always trump surveys, although surveys can be useful with large audiences. Thanks for speaking to this so clearly; too often internet marketing advisors casually throw out suggestions to ‘do a survey’ as a way of gathering information, when doing so just isn’t appropriate for every business situation.
My business is a partnership with my husband; our audience is basketball coaches, which has been his profession for over forty years. He was a coach/professor until his retirement and is known as someone who can teach coaches. We have a small audience at our website and have done bits and pieces of selling things/service, but haven’t yet found our footing in revenue-generation. A healthy percentage of our subscriber audience are people he/we know/s personally.
What I’m gathering from your article is that these conversations can help in two areas: feedback on specific products/services and generally keeping tabs on the pulse of our audience.
My question (as I get ready to sell a new product): Given our specific context of long/deep involvement in our marketplace, is it still important to do this kind of information-gathering for each new product/service? In the past when we’ve talked to coaches about various ideas, they are always positive and supportive, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into sales. Might it be more productive to talk to coaches who are *not* personally known to him for these sessions?
Anne Samoilov says
I think you have your answer. The one on one chats are important and I do think talking to people OFTEN is the answer – whether you do it at regular intervals or prior to launching something is up to you. It sounds like you have a good handle on your market and have already been doing this!
I definitely think focusing on the coaches who aren’t known personally is the way to go. Always be expanding…and by having those conversations – you’re expanding that reach for this product and future ones too.
Anne Samoilov says
Yeah – I was kind of being smart alec-y to myself on this one. It’s so easy for me personally to hole up and not talk to anyone … which might be surprising, but anyways…I MUST be structures like this in place to make sure I understand who’s walking around in my world. I think it’s a great idea to do post launch and also after you finish a program too! Make sure to understand your customers, people who did not buy, people who just met you… find ways of engaging them … maybe the calls happen with your customers only to start!
Good luck on that launch!!! xo
Anne Samoilov says
Yeah – you are right – sometimes getting people on skype is a tough sell.. the reason is that they think you are going to sell them. I like to reserve these conversations for when there is no imminent sale or thing to sell… for me that takes the pressure off. Funny thing though, that’s just fear talking. I think what helped in past conversations is to offer 1/2 them time, 1/2 questions about their business…
Plus – the other issue that you mention can happen too. Perhaps look into why those people signed up to be on your list. I know you don’t want to change 100% for other people, but is there some common thread as to why they found you, stay on your list? Maybe there’s some clue there that could even help your business.
Gosh, what great timing for this post!
I reached out to a long-time client last week with the silly email title of “Could you be bought for chocolate & free design service?”
It was clever enough for her to open the email & by offering genuine help in whatever arena she needed she was willing to to jump on a call with me…which is tomorrow, by the way. Another key point, I think – meeting with her whenever & wherever that works for her.
And to show that my intentions were genuine & authentic…as well as show my gratitude for her staying with me all these years, I plan on sending her a handwritten thank you note afterwards along with a gourmet chocolate bar to seal our connection….because chocloate between friends is thicker than blood. ; )
So I’ll definitely have to jot down all the lovely notes from your post to use as a guide for tomorrow’s call. Again, great timing!
Thanks so much – Hope you’re having a great weekend!
Joyce M. Washington says
definitely. I’m an introvert, which can be a blessing and a curse! Great for getting down and dirty to actually create stuff but bad when I need to get out there and figure out what folks really want/need from me. I’m actually excited about doing my survey/interviews in the coming weeks.
Anne Samoilov says
I love how you positioned your request to your client! That is so awesome and if I were your client, I’d be like yes of course I’ll help you – chocolate or not!
But damnnnn you are so right – chocolate does work. Seems so simple, but knowing that about your clients and network in general is a good place to start. Please talk to me – >> I will give you chocolate. LOL.
Put this on my radar and I have to say it’s brilliant. The other thing that I learned about this process from somebody is that your copy practically writes itself when you do this because you can use your customer’s language. i’ll be coming back to this more than a handful of times.
Anne Samoilov says
Thanks Srinivas – glad you enjoyed – come back come back! Andddd I love your content btw – listened to many ‘a blogcastfm audios. -Anne
Amanda Sue says
Brilliant and scary! 😀 And yes, my gosh surveys make me want to slam my head into the wall. Actually I got 4 responses on my last survey….that was somewhat of a record for me.
Okay. I’ll see if I can scour up a few people to call. *finger crossed*
Keepin’ it old school! Loved this post, Anne. My list is super tiny (under 10 people) and asking for feedback is just like pulling teeth. I’ve found that connecting them with personally on other social networks works better than asking in my newsletter. I think it’s because people aren’t accustomed to responding to “newsletters” (I never do, lol). Great idea about transcribing the conversation! I’m excited to do that. Thanks for the awesome post! You pump me up. Whoop! Whoop!
Anne Samoilov says
Treat your 10 peeps like gold – and use the opportunity to find really specific ways to give them what they want. Would love to hear how it goes reaching out to them personally! Do it while you can because as your list grows, it’s so hard to stay that connected. 🙂 xo
Nikole Gipps says
So, I have found that directly asking people questions has the same issues whether it is a survey, e-mail or phone call … for me, at least. It’s scary. People wouldn’t hire me if tech wasn’t scary! And people are afraid to look dumb in some way. So what I do instead of asking or surveying or whatever is I go to where people are – Facebook, forums, questions i have received – and I listen to what they are asking in their own words, in a place that they feel comfortable. And that is what helps me address what they need.
Nikole, this is a great observation and I think it’s true beyond just your field of tech. It’s something that I will keep in mind as I continue to explore ways to find and keep my fingers on the pulse of our basketball audience. Of course, it isn’t always easy to find those places where people feel comfortable asking their questions, but I persevere. Thanks.
Great post Anne! I’ve had success (mild) with surveys but one thing I like to include is a “if I have more questions, would you mind if I reached out for a quick chat?” << let's me get the story behind the answers.
I've also recently taken a page out of Tara Gentile's book and just started "observing" my target market. If you're hanging out (literally) where they're hanging out, you don't even have to necessarily ask questions – and it removes a bit of the bias that comes from what they THINK you want to hear versus what they actually feel/think/do. It's been super interesting….
Nikole Gipps says
You might want to ask where your people are – this is a question people are more willing to answer! Where do they hang out online and offline, what kind of open communication can you tap into? For example, people who need tech help and training are also people building a business, so they are hanging out in business/entrepreneur groups on Facebook where they also ask tech-related questions. Who are basketball coaches? Are they also parents, do they also get involved in other school-related activities, do they belong to specific organizations or attend any sort of training? An example I can think of is local leagues … you may not find coaches directly but you can find a lot of them locally through our local Kidssports leagues. Or you can find them through colleges or school districts. Or maybe you can host local clinics and have them come to you with their questions as a test case. Or maybe see what they are searching for on google! See what I mean?
Anne Samoilov says
Liz – yep yep yep! As we’re seeing with all the comments here – this post is the beginning of a conversation on where to find your peeps, how to reach them, how to find out what they want, how to observe and listen instead of trying to “ask”. There are so many sides to this conversation.
I think doing a survey monkey or google survey and calling it a day is dangerous. For me – there are so many ways to talk to different types of people. This is one…
Thanks so much for chiming in!
Jennifer Kennedy says
This has been on my mind for quite some time!!! I had great results initially, but I polled my peers in a Facebook group who were willing to help — because they have received so much help.
I did have a Skype conversation recently — I didn’t quite get everything I wanted out of it, but it was mostly because I didn’t come to the conversation with the exact questions and ideas I wanted to get out of it!
But, I’m close to launching a program soon and will reach out again — this time more prepared!
Thank you so much for this Anne!!
I love this tip!! I’ve done this before and it works!
Ana Goncalves says
Thank you, this has been a great help to me! I have been offering free 30m discovery clarity sessions to begin with as I have just started out, to find out how I can help people and then offer them some of my programs at the end that fit the individual, however haven’t got completely clear on them yet though have an idea and I think for the most part I need their input more than anything to help me define and create a program that is right for them. Talking to them is a great help, even just starting out I am already seeing what the main themes are. I think am interested in diving deeper so I know how I can serve them in a wider capacity so by taking some time out with them and asking these questions will greatly benefit both the client and myself. I am actually working on who to target right now out of my list and emailing them personally to ask, schedule a call and take it from there. Just had a look and already see who I can communicate with about this.
Thanks so much, you have been a great help!
Tamisha Ford says
This is awesome, Anne. I have to tell you something – I took your advice early in 2013 to add a simple question to my auto responder the day after people sign up to my list, and I’ve never been more thrilled. The truth is that only about 1 in 5 people actually respond, but when they do, they DO and it works well – I also ask how they found me, which has been interesting in helping increase my SEO efforts, organic traffic, and social media strategy. It works for my community and was one of the BEST things I’ve done in my business so far.
I love this idea of a free call as well and look forward to trying it.
Another suggestion I have is to actually look at the trends in your email marketing for who to call. Who’s opening your emails consistently even if they aren’t commenting? A lot of people have anxiety around commenting on blogs/sites while many don’t. I don’t think we can underestimate the more introverted crowd who may not be publicly part of the conversation, but are very engaged with your content, nevertheless. The private conversation gives them a more private way of relaying their (probably many) existing opinions and thoughts on what they’d like to see.
Michael Knouse says
This is such a great, straight-forward approach. I just love it’s simplicity and getting right to the heart of the matter which is talking to people about what they really want and need. It seems so obvious to do this but in a world crowded with complex solutions and systems and software tools, it’s often the simplest things that get overlooked. I have meetings with 3 people next week and I’m looking forward to the conversations and the feedback. Thanks for offering this great suggestion.
Great advice! Thanks Ann!
Great advice! Thanks Anne!
As an introvert, and I speak for many many many of us here. If you did a follow up call I would never use your services again and would much prefer an online or paper survey to having to actually talk on the phone. It feels way too confrontational even if the person is nice.
I (like many of us) don’t answer my phone if I don’t know the number. I’m in a lot of ‘introvert’ facebook groups and if you did a survey in there you would probably find that most of them feel the same way. We are a statistically smaller part of the population so it may not matter to you if we screen our calls but I just couldn’t use a business that insisted on calling me.
I’m actually going to post your article to one of these groups and see what people think.