What happened was this. My business partner and I asked some people in our target market to sample some products we’re planning to sell.
Like many other soloists in start-up mode we opted for the cheap (i.e. free) and low maintenance approach to market research, and whacked a questionnaire up on Survey Monkey asking for feedback.
Then we nervously sat back and waited for the responses.
And waited some more.
Ouch. Maybe nobody liked our products? Maybe they didn’t work? Maybe this whole thing wasn’t going to get off the ground?
Eventually, I ran into one of the research participants and she raved about the product we’d given her to try. Phew.
The following week another rang me and enthusiastically shared a similar story.
Want more articles like this? Check out the using surveys section.
So why didn’t they bother clicking on the link to our 3-minute survey and sharing their responses with us there? It turned out they didn’t want to tell us about their experiences with our products, they wanted to talk with us about them. They wanted the communication to be a two-way street.
On deeper examination, we realised that even though we want as much feedback on our products as possible, we’d felt a bit cheeky asking people to trial them. And since we felt we were imposing, we’d tried to limit the amount of effort they needed to put in on our behalf.
But we hadn’t appreciated that people like to be asked for their opinions, are extraordinarily generous with their time, and relish the sense of contribution that comes from helping others succeed.
These people are smack bang in the middle of our target market, and by trying to take the unobtrusive approach, we almost denied ourselves the opportunity to learn what they really think.
Luckily, those keen to learn more about the products set us straight, and we’re now in the midst of scheduling appointments for in-depth chats with all the participants. The feedback will make our product range and our marketing infinitely better than they would have been had we relied on the original short-and-sweet multiple-choice questionnaire.
Had those kind souls not spoken up, we’d have assumed the reaction was negative and may have adjusted our plans accordingly. It feels like we’ve had a near miss, and has been a welcome reminder to ask for what you really want, not what you think you can have.
Have you been guilty of a similar oversight? Tell us what you really think.