Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nothing to Tell Them? Ask Them Something

You want to stay on your customers' and prospects' radar screens. You never know when they'll have a need for what you do, and you want to be the company at the front of their mind when that happens. Simply stated, you want your brand and logo in front of customers regularly, and email is the cheapest, fastest way to make that happen.

We've heard a lot about newsletters as a front-of-mind vehicle. Many business owners find themselves grasping for content, asking, "How can I come up with things my readers can use?"

Here's an idea -- Rather than telling or teaching your customers something, you can ask them something and get the same front-of-mind effect. And then you have a second excuse to communicate -- when you tell them what they and everyone else had to say on the subject. The key ingredient? Online surveys.

This idea surfaced in a Chief Executive Boards International meeting, and then several free or nearly free online survey tools were mentioned. Specifically, and . Either of these tools allow you to construct reasonably sophisticated online surveys. The huge benefit is they also roll up the results into either spreadsheets or graphical reports that you can immediately use.

And here's a bonus idea -- If you want to increase response to a customer survey, one member suggested offering a $5.00 donation to the respondent's charity of choice. Easy deal -- at the end of the survey, put a text box, asking them for their chosen charity (might not be a bad idea to ask for its address or URL as well).

Finally, you'll want to remind respondents that you'll give them the results in exchange for their input. Either post the results as a page on your website and send them the link by email or send them the results in the email itself.

A second use for online surveys, of course, is surveying customer satisfaction on a "per-transaction" basis -- each time you ship something or each time you pass a milestone. That way, you begin collecting a running scorecard of your company's performance. The same tools are useful for that purpose.

If you've had success with surveys as a front-of-mind tool, please click "Comments" below and share your experience with others.

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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