One of the best ways to get answers to questions that you might have about your business, or your services or any number of other issues is to survey the people who can best answer your queries. Advisors use surveys in a variety of ways, such as querying clients about the level of services provided, colleagues on interest in webinar topics, referral sources on qualities that they value when referring business, employees about the firm’s benefits package, etc.
Surveys are an excellent public relations tool as well. Recipients are impressed when they find out that the advisor is interested in their opinions, especially since so few advisors use surveys. Surveys also provide a benchmark and, when used on an on-going basis, can indicate the success or failure of a specific program or campaign.
Surveys can be completed by telephone, mail, in person, in a one-on-one situation or in a focus group, or on-line. The survey method depends on the type of information needed. A telephone interview is good for a small group of interviewees where probing questions are useful. A written survey is more appropriate for a larger participant pool with close-ended questions (Yes/no answers, multiple choice, etc.). Face-to-face interviews are time-consuming and, oftentimes, the incremental value is not worth the cost, unless the topic requires a discussion. On-line surveys are an easy and cost-effective way to obtain information from participants. Platforms such as Constant Contact, Qualtrics, Survey Monkey and Zoomerang are useful tools generate graphs automatically.
If you’re considering using a survey, here are some simple guidelines to help you.
1. Pose the question that you want answered. For example, you may want to know what additional services you should provide your clients. The question is, “What other services do our clients need?”
2. Select the group who can best answer the question or, in this case, the target group to whom you will be marketing the new services.
3. Develop a short survey of 8 to 15 questions. Use close-ended questions when surveying a large number of people and open-ended questions when conducting a focus group or telephone interview.
4. Ask unbiased questions.
5. Whenever possible use a Likert scale in multiple answer questions, such as one to five from “not helpful” to “very helpful.”
6. Decide who will execute the survey. For example, can you conduct the survey with in-house personnel or should you hire an independent third party for confidentiality and candor?
7. Decide on the survey method. For example, do you want a telephone survey or an on-line survey?
8. Send correspondence to the selected survey participants informing them that someone will contact them about a survey.
9. Offer a reward for participation, such as a gift card for the local coffee shop, to increase participation.
10. Allow 10 days for survey completion.
11. Most results will be generated within the first week with participation dropping off thereafter. A reminder notice a few days before the survey close, generally, spikes response rates.
12. Analyze the results. Be aware of small sample sizes, since they may not accurately reflect the opinion of your targeted population.
13. Make your decision based on the survey results.
Surveys are one of the best ways to find out about the perceptions of your clients, referral sources, employees and others. Too often, advisors are ready to make decisions without appropriate research. A simple survey can provide concrete answers, can offer a course of action that is well supported and can benchmark the progress in reaching your goals.
An additional benefit of surveys that is oftentimes overlooked is its leveragability. Surveys have the greatest leveragability of all marketing activities, because they are unobtrusive, great for research and increase your exposure to multiple individuals.
For example, the results of a survey can be written up in an article, a blog and a press release, included in a newsletter, pitched to the media, posted on a social media page and website, and serve as the basis for a speech, a webinar and a white paper.
Overall, surveys are a great marketing tactic. They help you find out more about your clients, improve your business through analysis of results, and are easily convertible into other marketing outlets. With the right tools, and the proper information, you are now on your way to conducting surveys and successfully marketing to improve your business.
Please contact us if you would like more information about using surveys to drive your marketing.