While it's certainly true that there is no one "right way" to run a successful business, there sure are a lot of "wrong" ones.
Regardless of what type of business you're actually running, the most important thing you can do involves gaining some much needed perspective. Instead of launching a company, designing products and services, and hoping the audience is there, you need to start with your audience and work your way backwards to the needs you're trying to fill.
Who am I trying to reach? What types of challenges do they face? What types of problems are they trying to solve? How can I help them do all of this and more?
Successful business leaders ask these types of questions on a daily basis and they come out all the better for it. But something a lot of people don't realize is that the answers are a lot easier to come by than most folks think. If you really want to know what your audience is thinking, you don't have to guess at all.
You just have to ask them.
The Story Behind All Those Ones and Zeroes
Surveys are an important part of your marketing efforts for a myriad of different reasons, but if you had to boil those all down to a single word it would undoubtedly be the following: insight.
Remember that data, on its own, is essentially meaningless. Without a way to process that data - to extract the valuable story hidden just beneath the surface - it really isn't doing anybody any good. Surveys (among other techniques) therefore become an incredibly efficient way to contextualize a lot of that data, providing you with new and valuable insight that may have otherwise gone undiscovered.
Case in point: your data is telling you that it's time to update your product offerings, your pricing options, or both at the same time. But you aren't really sure how, exactly, you're supposed to do it. You and your teams sit down to come up with ideas and, before too long, you have more than you know what to do with.
You can't possibly enact all of these changes, so how do you know which ones to pick? How do you know which ones your audience will respond positively to?
It's simple. You just ask them.
Not only is this a great way to make sure that you're continually headed in the right direction, but it's also a perfect opportunity to gain new insights into customer demographics that you may have missed in the past.
Surveys are great for not only getting someone's opinion - but also for uncovering the "why" behind that opinion. It's less about understanding how they feel and more about uncovering why they feel that way to begin with. Based on that level of insight, you then put yourself in a far better position to make better, more informed decisions moving forward.
Surveys are also an incredible opportunity to measure certain key performance metrics, like customer awareness, usage, and even satisfaction over time as they relate to a particular product or service.
If you're six months away from launching a brand new product, it stands to reason that you want people to be excited. You don't just want to spring something on them - you want them to be overly enthusiastic, counting down the days until they can part with their hard-earned money for everything that you've promised them.
A well executed survey can be a perfect opportunity to help make sure that's actually going to happen. You can not only see that people are aware, but how they became aware. You can see which of your marketing efforts were the most effective and which ones weren't. At that point, you can double down on everything that is working and fix what is broken.
None of these are things that you would have necessarily been able to do without something as simple as a survey by your side.
Surveys can also be a great, interactive way to let your audience tell you what type of collateral you should be creating, too. When you sit down with a tool like Visme (which I founded in an effort to help people collaborate and communicate with one another), the possibilities are essentially endless by design. But we both know that isn't quite true. Marketing is all about making sure that the right message hits the right person at the right moment. Therefore, the best way to guarantee that all of those things are true is simple: just ask them.
Surveys will tell you.
Spend Less Time Talking and More Time Listening
In the end, it's important to remember that absolutely everyone has an opinion. Some of them are overwhelmingly positive, some of them are less so, but the important thing is that they exist at all. Therefore, it is absolutely in your own best interest to both solicit those opinions from your audience members whenever you can and actually listen to what people are trying to tell you.
Running your business is very much a two-way street. Without your customers, you have nothing. Never forget that. But if you continue to operate your business in a vacuum, making decisions and implementing change on their behalf instead of alongside them, you'll quickly have a problem on your hands that will be difficult to course correct from.
People are very, very willing to share their opinion with you. This is one opportunity you should not overlook. Because of that, it's important for you to remember to spend less time talking to your audience and more time listening to them whenever you can.
Featured Image Source: Close-up of businessman filling customer survey form by Andrey Popov Shutterstock
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.More Content by Payman Taei