I love surveys, and I bet you never thought you’d see me say that!

I love surveys because they bring so much to the party.

They help you to understand your ideal customers, they help you with product development, relationship building and also speaking their language.

You can use the survey and the results in lots of ways to help you build your business.

Today I’m going to share the top 5 reasons why you need to run a survey for your business and you’ll soon see how they can help you rock your business and make more money.

1. What Your Audience Wants

The first and most obvious reason to run a survey is to find out what your audience wants. By audience, I mean the people in your network, your customers, potential customers and other people who are aware of you but aren’t quite sure what you do, yet. The more you can give your audience what they want, the more engagement you get, the more effective your marketing is and the more you sell.

By asking a few short multiple choice questions, you can quickly get a snapshot of who’s out there AND about how they live their life.

So in my case, I often want to understand more about my women business owners and female entrepreneurs in my network and on my page.

I want to know what their aspirations are for their business, how much they’d love to be earning, what their biggest challenges are and what they would love to know more about right now. I need to understand where they are with their business, life and confidence levels so that I can develop coaching products to help them and so that I can ensure my free tips and information are pitched at the right level.

I then ask a couple of open questions about what they would change in their business or how they feel about their business. So I might ask ‘if you could wave a magic wand in your business, what would you ask for right now’ or ‘how do you feel about your business?’ so that I get answers in their own words. Which leads me nicely to the second reason you need to run a survey.

2. Speak their language

A huge part of smart marketing is being able to speak your customers’ and clients’ language rather than using language and terminology that doesn’t resonate with them. I’ve been in marketing for years and while I know and understand what a ‘SWOT Analysis’ is or what’s involved in a marketing plan, many of the women business owners I attract have never had to do any of this before. So by using these terms, I will immediately alienate a whole bunch of them who find it all a bit too far out of their comfort zone.

I need to understand the words THEY use to describe their challenges and what they would love to get from their business. One example from a survey I did earlier this year was the topic of work/life balance. While this is a really commonly used phrase, it didn’t feature in more than once or twice in my 500+ responses. A phrase that kept cropping up, however, was ‘juggling my business and my family’ or ‘working my business around my family’. Same meaning, different language. So I started to use these words and phrases in my writing and guess what? I have a much better response from the women business owners who are within my network, many of whom are trying to turn a hobby into a business and who find running a business a whole new learning experience. And please don’t think I’m being patronizing or implying that they don’t understand work/life balance. Of course they do. It’s just that they don’t use that phrase and so now, neither do I.

3. New Product Development

I get really excited about my surveys; I can’t wait for the responses to start coming in! It’s like opening a bag of my favourite ever pick ‘n’ mix sweets and I see one delicious goodie after another appearing in the survey results.

Why? Well, surveys for me are the source of my ideas for future products. Who better to ask what they need than the ladies who are in my network? The responses they give in the survey help to generate ideas for new products and coaching programmes.

They help me to understand where people are struggling, what they would love to know more about and how they need supporting. They shape my product development with their brilliant ideas and super suggestions. I never run out of ideas for blog posts. I never get stuck for social media posts or e-newsletters. I have an endless source of red hot information straight from the client’s mouth and as a result: the coaching programmes, webinars and other products I create always sell like hot cakes.

They would, naturally, because I’m giving my network what they want and what they asked for.

4. Building Relationships

Building relationships is what marketing is all about. That ‘know, like and trust factor’ that you’ve no doubt heard of. The trouble is, when you get past a certain number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers, it becomes harder and harder to get to know people. It all just gets too BIG and you start to lose track of individuals and see your following as a sea of people.

I love surveys because they give me access to individual woman business owners and female entrepreneurs. I get to hear their voice, which would otherwise be lost in a sea of voices on my social media accounts.

I get first hand, real life feedback – precious information – information with which they have entrusted me and for which I am very grateful. I get to understand what’s bothering them, where they are struggling, how they feel and what they’re dreaming of doing with their business.

It’s like having a snapshot of what’s going on with my network at a point in time and it’s invaluable. It shows that I care about what they think. They feel as though their feedback is valuable, which of course it is. They know that they are helping to shape The Girls Mean Business and that I will deliver ever better support for them as a result.

5. PR

Here’s the other thing I LOVE about surveys. When you’ve closed the survey and pored over the responses, come up with dozens of ideas for new products and services, and are sitting there feeling like you really know your audience now, you’re still not finished with it.

You can take a summary of the findings and use them in PR. So if 87% of your respondents replied that their biggest struggle in running their business is affordable childcare, that’s a great story to take to your local radio station or newspaper

If 26% said that money isn’t high up on their list of reasons for running a business, but instead ‘being their own boss’ and ‘working flexible hours’ were way ahead of money…that’s a story.

Not only is it a story for the media, it’s also a great talking point for your online communities AND it positions you as an expert as you are the source of the survey information.

So, that’s why I love surveys and why I run a survey at least twice a year in my business. I use Survey Monkey and I tend to buy a one-month subscription and run the survey over 2 weeks, while marketing it to my networks. I always give an incentive of an iTunes voucher or similar to encourage people to join in as I need several hundred responses to give me an accurate snapshot.

Before any of the professional survey companies shoot me down, I KNOW this is a somewhat slapdash way of doing it. If I were a huge corporation, of course I’d do it differently but I’m not. I’m a one-woman business and I need to understand my audience better, and this is a GREAT way to do it.

Inspired? Try doing a survey in YOUR business and see what comes back.

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