Small business marketing can be vastly improved by using surveys

Companies that don't have the resources to perform in-depth market research can often find themselves at a loss when faced with the prospect of improving their marketing techniques. Investments in branding strategies that go nowhere can seem like monumental wastes, especially given the fact that it might take months to determine if they were effective or not.

Consequently, it is important to get some grasp on how customers perceive an organization's advertisements and image. One important tool that helps offer guidance for small businesses is an online survey. Many services, such as Survey Builder, allow companies to create their own questionnaire and collect results on a variety of topics so long as clients are willing to take the time to answer them.

One technique that will pay some dividends is to participation in this kind of research. Respondents can be entered into the running for significant discounts on their next purchases, or might even find themselves the lucky recipients of a promotional product. Appeals to frequent customers that make the case that service will be improved may even be successful. No matter how they're enticed, any responses from customers will certainly yield important information about how people about a company and which methods are working effectively to raise brand awareness. Here are some ideas for questions that will help companies improve their outreach to consumers.

How did you learn about our company?
This may be the most important question of all. Many online services will ask this when people sign up for more information or to offer contact information, because the internet is a large medium. There are many avenues through which to discover a company's products and services, so when offline advertisements and branding efforts are added, it becomes even harder to pinpoint where people learned about a business.

Questions like this should come in multiple choice form, with responses that include the most likely methods a company might have come to the attention of a client. However, make sure to include a free response form. There can be hidden ways that brought a person into contact with an organization that might open up additional areas for marketing investments that can pay big dividends.

What was your impression of our company before we did business?
There may be many consumers who never even knew that a business existed before their first transaction. However, a minority may have been aware of it, but never decided to make a purchase. These people will provide a wealth of information, especially when a company's overall image is different than their actual products and services. Alterations to logos and general identities might end up drawing in customers as a result of answers to this sort of question.

What are our best and worst qualities?
Companies that can devote a lot of time to carefully managing their images might know exactly how people see them, but small businesses often have to concern themselves with operations and other concrete efforts. These organizations might believe that the levels of service they provide are their biggest selling points, but they might be completely wrong. Additionally, they may believe that their biggest weaknesses are related to a lack of resources, when in actuality, they're something much easier to correct. This is another area in which a free response form should be included.

Would you recommend our company to others and how would you do so?
Some people who have a strong positive or negative impression of a company immediately take to the internet to air their grievances or lend support. Conversely, others simply make their feelings known to family and friends when the topic arises. Organizations that spend a lot of time and effort on social media websites or review platforms will benefit tremendously if they can understand how knowledge of their services is being disseminated.  

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