Ever since I was a child I remember my father telling me, “You should always try to be a leader, not a follower.” Like much of the sensible wisdom he imparted in my formative years, I try to incorporate this advice into all aspects of my life, not the least of which is my chosen profession.
Garnering feedback from your clients and peers is one of the most important things you can do to become a leader and not a follower in your market. Would you create a mobile app without doing some sort of market research first? While this undoubtedly happens, the answer is no, you should not do that.
Unless you are incredibly lucky you will waste thousands, possibly tens of thousands of dollars to produce it, only to have to go back and make several changes to increase adoption. These figures are just for the example of a mobile app. Depending on your business sunk costs on poor market research could number even higher. Unfortunately many great ideas that could vastly improve the lives of consumers and their families, their relationship with their governments, or civil productivity are left behind because cash flow just isn’t there for “re-do” – type iteration.
The Customer is Always Right
You might have a great idea, or believe your product or service is superior, even ground-breaking. This doesn’t matter however unless your clients, prospects or end-users believe it as well.
How best to find out then? Ask them.
Using surveys and polls allows you to test market ideas and identify new opportunities as well as determine if your clients and end-users are satisfied with your offerings. They are invaluable in consumer retention as well as planning future product/service offerings, diversification, and expansion (or downsizing).
Use Surveys and Polls to:
Address diversification of product offerings
Identify where you can improve in managing current clients
Identify new market opportunity
Test new ideas
Generate ideas future marketing campaigns or new products/services
Establishing thought leadership is essential for any business looking to rise to the top of their industry. You garner trust, attention, evangelism, and with them will likely be able to leverage increased reach through things like press. Indeed, the more successful you are, the easier marketing becomes.
A great way to do this is by surveying your industry and using those results to market your business. The strategy here is to create a focused survey targeted toward your industry, distribute it to you peers, produce a high-quality report from the findings, then turn around and promote its use to others in your industry.
This of course is done at no charge. Remember, we’re thinking BIG, not nickel and diming at every chance for a profit.
What separates the leaders from the followers?
A big part of marketing now is in producing content to educate and even entertain your clients and prospects. This content is then marketed on different channels and in different forms to buyers at various stages in the decision making process. The ultimate goal is that they reach out to you when ready to buy, rather than being “sold to” with tactics that haven’t worked since the early 90’s.
When you are thought leader in your industry, you can be source of inspiration among your peers and the facts or figures that back up the content they produce. It’s often easier to take findings from a report than to conduct your own survey, a route many businesses are more than willing to take. When using your facts and figures, if your peers are respectable, they will credit your business with a citation (which now is often a link back to your website – something search engines are very fond of). The more this happens, the more you get noticed and recognized as a leader by prospects, current clients and press outlets.
Becoming a Leader
Many companies are successfully practicing this now across many industries – Iron Mountain (document management, Ecova (energy management), Social Media Examiner (digital social media marketing magazine) – to name a few. There are several examples, many of them likely found at the top of your respective industries. By producing these types of official industry reports and promoting them well, these companies are garnering significant recognition among peers and press alike. This type of recognition can only lead to a more successful and growing business.
Granted you have to realize a certain amount of success to be in a position to conduct this type of survey and subsequent report that well be recognized as a legitimate. But as demonstrated by the examples above, it’s only a matter of scale and commitment. Like the examples in this article, you likely won’t experience rapid success from one attempt at an industry report, but rather if you keep iterating and promoting it on a regular basis.
It doesn’t take much to separate the leaders from the followers in an industry – some clever marketing and a way to demonstrate thought leadership can go a long way. Whether used to assess your market to improve business or to garner large scale recognition through a recognized report, surveys can and should be an integral part of your marketing strategy.