Here are two marketing choices: Send out messages and communications based on what you think people want to hear or should hear about your product or service OR send out messages and communications based on what people have told you they want to hear and will respond to.

Is that a stumper? Not to me. Here’s the deal; if you have even only 20 customers, ask them what they value and what they want?

A lot of companies make market feedback into some sort of ordeal. Survey Monkey and other internet tools have made the ability to create a survey and send it to gobs of strangers or even customers pretty easy. Does that mean they care and will really give you valuable information? Does it mean you’re even asking the right questions. No, it does not.

I’ve watched these things be created, even created my own. They are generated internally with the best of “affirmation” intentions. That is, “how are we doing within these confines”. On a 1-10 scale please rate our (fill it in). Please select the answer that best states how you think we (fill it in). I hate these things, don’t you? This creates a whole bunch of data points, which the marketing firm always tells you are exactly what you want.

You know what, I’m not so sure.

Here is a new and fresh approach in a time crunched world where we know for fact we don’t know what is on the mind of the other person. How about we just ask them these three simple questions:

  1. What is the greatest value you get from us?
  2. What is the biggest thing you get from our relationship?
  3. What is one thing we could do that we are not currently doing?

I would rather have 20 of these answers than 4000 data points in some Election day format. From this I would fully understand what is the most valuable and important things we do. I would know exactly what the existing audience would like to see us do to go further or how to get more prospects that have the same perspective as our existing Customers.

Once past these three questions I would ask two more:

  1. What are your goals for the upcoming _________?
  2. What will stop you from achieving those goals?

Try it. Ask folks on the phone. Keep track. Ask them in an email. Maybe one question at a time. However you choose to do it – ASK. We all know in sales you have to ask. What if that is the simplest way to look at marketing, too.

Of course, then you need to be willing to listen to the answers.

Special thanks to Steve Napolitan for making this so simple.