By Jeanne Hurlbert, PhD
It’s back: Black Friday, the annual shopfest that marks the beginning of the holiday season.
And no, I didn’t trudge out at 2AM to stand in line in a cold Baton Rouge rain to elbow my way in for the deals.
If you braved the crowds, I hope you snagged your deal and are now safely snug and warm at home. (I’m home, in front of my computer, with CB and Neily at my feet, enjoying the quiet while my little one is out for a bit.)
Even though I didn’t make it out to the stores today, I love to see this day come.
That’s right, I admit it: I love the holidays. Might not be cool, but I do. Bring on the figgy pudding and the Festival of Lights and the whole nine yards, I’m in. (And because I love them so much, I’m giving you a chance to get some quick holiday cash—so keep reading to find out how!)
But as a business owner, there’s a “dark side” to the holidays that brings its own, unique brand of angst: the dreaded balance sheet.
I don’t know about you, but the very thought of that year-end accountability makes me queasy.
Yet here we stand. The bells are tolling, the ball is about to drop, and we must face the cold, hard facts about what we did and didn’t accomplish last year.
Can you just ignore it? Absolutely—as long as you’re willing to sign a contract saying that you absolutely, positively, DO NOT want to do ANY better in 2011 than you did in 2010.
But if you want to avoid that fate, if you want to correct your shortcomings and multiply your successes exponentially, you’ve got to look BEYOND the numbers on the balance sheet to UNDERSTAND the answers to 2 critical questions.
1) WHY did you fall short in certain areas? Answering this question will let you turn last year’s losses into next year’s leverage.
2) WHY did you SUCCEED or EXCEL in other areas? Although you might be tempted to “rest on your laurels,” analyzing the successes is at least as important as deconstructing the failures, so that you can replicate and extend that success for next year.
How do you find the answers? It’s not through introspection, it’s not through more books or courses or seminars, it’s not through voodoo.
You find the answers simply, quickly, easily, and inexpensively, by finally LISTENING to your customers and prospects, by finally HAVING the cash conversation that can transform your business in 2011.
The simple truth is that the places in which your profits fell short are the places where you somehow fell short in serving your customers, the places in which you excelled are those in which you met or exceeded their expectations.
So it is they who can show you exactly how to turn 2011 into a banner year.
To show you how this works, let’s look at some of the “ghosts of transactions past” that might be haunting your 2010 balance sheet and see how the simple act of LISTENING to your customers can turn it all around:
Scenario 1: You spent a TON of time and money this year creating THE product that you KNEW was going to make a mint for you. It fell considerably short of your expectations and you have no idea why.
Well, how did you “know” that product would work? You had a hunch or you talked with a customer who said they wanted it or you had one of those wonderful, 3 AM ideas, maybe?
The way to create a winning product is to take you impressions of what you THINK they want, then ASK your customers—ALL of them—if they want it, what they want in it, how they want it delivered, and what they’ll pay. And you do this BEFORE you spend months and months and thousands of dollars creating something.
You do that with a Product Creation Survey–if you’re a MySurveyExpert member, you already have our awesome new Product Creation System. If you’re not a member, we’ll be unveiling it very soon!
Scenario 2: You’re not getting traffic to your website or blog, no matter how hard you try, no matter how many of the latest, greatest tricks you implement.
No question about it, traffic is the Holy Grail. And if the old “if we build it, they will come” philosophy didn’t work this year, let’s try a different approach.
Let’s try ASKING people what they want to know and GIVING it to them on your website or blog.
How? Super simple. Put up a lead page or “squeeze page” and ask people what their #1 question is about your topic, what the #1 problem is in their business is that keeps them awake at night, or something like that. Give them a free report, video, or something else of value, in exchange for the question, name, and email.
You’ll get a goldmine of information AND you’ll build your list, by simply using social media to drive traffic to the page or buying and targeting a Facebook ad.
Suddenly, you’ll KNOW what kind of content they want and you’ll be able to give it to them, JUST from the questions you get.
By answering each one of these questions,
- You can create blog posts for months.
- You can produce an eBook to give away in exchange for an “opt-in.”
- You’ll know how to target your AdWords campaign.
- You’ll have enough tweets to take you well into the 2nd quarter of 2011.
- You’ll have posts that will put your Facebook fan page on fire.
You get the idea: You’ll finally find that Holy Grail.
Scenario 3: Your customer retention rate just keeps falling and you can’t understand why, because you keep getting rave reviews on your blog.
I hear this all the time: “I know people like my stuff because they tell me so on my blog” or “I’ve gotten at least 10 tweets about how great it is” or “the people who show up on my coaching calls LOVE the membership site.”
Know what you’ve heard? You’ve heard that 5 people, or 10 people, or the select few on your coaching calls “love your stuff.”
Think about that for a minute: Can you run a successful business that supports your family and funds your retirement based on 5 or 10 people? Probably not.
If your retention rates are falling, you’re missing the mark with the MAJORITY, of your folks, who are very different than the happy minority you’re hearing from.
So if you want to build the business that WILL serve your customers and accomplish your goals, you’ve got to broaden your scope, you’ve got to listen to ALL your customers.
Research shows clearly that, in any user participation site—going all the way back to CompuServe bulletin boards (I’m old enough to remember those!) and forward to social media—over 90% of the content comes from 5% or less of the users and the vast majority of the content comes from about 1% of the users.
Here’s the bottom line:
- If you have a membership site, survey everyone.
- If you’re selling a series of products, attach a satisfaction survey to EVERY ONE of them so that you know what they’re thinking.
And if you think this idea is geeky, think again. The top marketers do this ALL the time—I know, because I help them do it.
One top marketer has a satisfaction survey attached to all of his products, even the ones he gives away.
There’s a REASON they make so much money: They answer these critical questions. Model their success and you’ll make 2011 truly remarkable, for you AND your customers.
Scenario 4: You get tons of traffic to your website but you can’t crank up your conversion rate.
Maybe you need a different way to engage your customers. One killer way to do that is with QUIZZES, which can increase your conversion rates by as much as 80%.
But for this to work, you need GOOD quizzes. Far too many folks do quizzes where they ask a few questions, assign a “score,” and then give you a scale with which to interpret it. So the quiz really doesn’t tell you or teach you very much. And worse, if your score is low, you may feel pretty embarrassed.
I don’t know about you, but being told that I don’t know very much doesn’t generally make more likely to buy.
We think there’s a better way.
We’ve come up with a quiz model that has 2 key parts. In the first section, we get the “norm of reciprocity” going by giving people valuable content. We do this by getting people to answer 4-5 multiple choice questions; the return script gives them their answer, the correct answer, and a couple of paragraphs of WHY it’s the correct answer—the valuable content.
And then in the second section, we bring it home: We find some key characteristics, skills, deficits, or problems and give them a customized recommendation for YOUR products or services. So if they say they have Problems A, F, and G, we tell them that products or services R, T, and X can be their solution.
It’s awesome, it’s easy, and it can put your 2011 conversion rates on steroids.
Scenario 5: Your income stream is erratic; you’d love to create a membership site to smooth it out but you’re not sure what your folks would like.
There’s a simple solution: ASK your customers what they’d like in a membership site.
We did this for one of our clients and we got an absolute formula for what her customers wanted: 20% of Content Type A, 40% of Content Type B, and 40% of Content Type C. We even found out what they’d pay and how they wanted it delivered.
The industry average for the “stick” on membership sites might be 30%, but that’s partly because most people DON’T do their homework.
Find these things out going in—and keep checking as you go–and you’ll have a way to keep that recurring income coming, month after month and year after year, because you’ll be serving your customers well.
Scenario 6: Your open rates are abysmal; how can you get anyone to buy if they won’t even look at the offers?
How do you get people to open your emails? You make them feel that you know them personally, you understand their problems and you feel their pain.
If you’re writing a single, generic message to 5,000 or 10,000 or 20,00 or more of your “closest friends,” you’re writing to no one, you’re reaching no one, and worst of all, you’re selling to no one.
The trick is to cut it down to size, by segmenting your list.
Sounds scientific and hard but it’s simple and easy.
All you need to do is to find out who your folks are: things like buyers vs. nonbuyers, men vs. women, folks who are “affluent” and those who aren’t (because after all, you can’t follow Dan Kennedy’s advice to market to the affluent if you can’t find the affluent folks!)
Then you target your messages separately to men and women, to buyers and non-buyers, to those who are affluent and those who aren’t.
Some of this information will come from your database but much of it will come from surveying your list, having that cash conversation.
Summing It Up
All too often, we’re “looking for answers in all the wrong places,” or at least missing THE most important place: our customers and prospects. Ultimately, THAT’S really the bottom line that explains why you did or didn’t make the cut this year.
Even if none of these scenarios applies to you and your business, the questions to ask your customers are simple: Did I serve you well this year? Did I meet or exceed your expectations? And how can I serve you better in the coming year?
Understanding HOW your customers and prospects affected what happened this year is the absolute key to making next year better because once you understand that, you’ll know HOW to change the marketing or the product offerings or whatever else needs to change. It will simply, truly, and remarkably transform your business.
And because WE understand that well, we’re asking YOU, our wonderful MySurveyExpert community, to tell us about YOUR goals, problems, and challenges, as you move into 2011, so that we can give you EXACTLY the information you need in 2011.
We set up some quick questions for you to answer and everyone who answers them all gets a chance to win one of TWO $50 Amazon gift cards—nothing like some holiday green! (But remember: We can’t send you the card if you don’t give us your contact info!)
To get your shot at the gift cards, just go here.
Find Out How Survey Questions Can Help You Figure Out What Your Client Wants.
Success Stories“A wonderful offering for busy entrepreneurs and business owners” "Jeanne Hurlbert's survey system is a wonderful offering for busy entrepreneurs and business owners who want to be in continual, 'customer-centric' dialogue with their prospects and clients, a systematic approach you can build on for years to come. Even better, Jeanne practices what she preaches — she goes the extra mile again and again to serve us, and I'm confident she'll do the same for you."
~ Saniel Bonder, spiritual author and teacher, Pres. of Extraordinary Empowerments (www.heartgazing.com).
“Jeanne’s Really Been a Genius at Showing Me How Important Surveys Are.” "Jeanne's an amazing gal who truly is an exceptional, unique person who really understands the power of surveys. Surveys are just a different way to talk to people and ask them a little about what they're doing and why they want to do it with you. The more you know, the better you can serve people. Jeanne's really been a genius at helping me realize how important that is. She's helped me put a structure into place so when I'm on the Internet working with people I can find out what they really want so I can do a better job of giving them what they want. That's the key—but sometimes we think people want to do "this," and in actuality, they'd rather do it "this way." Whatever it is you're doing, whether it's finances or dating or relationships or just business on the Internet, and you want to find out how to do it better, Jeanne's programs are fantastic. Anything she does, I'm always dialed into. She's just a genius at taking what you're doing and making it better, so you can do it more effectively and you can reach the people you want to more effectively. If you get Jeanne's stuff, read it, be disciplined at it, it will transform your business, as it has mine."
~ New York Times #1 Bestselling Author, Jorge Cruise
"Had I Done a Survey on My Own, I Would Have Wasted a Ton of Time and Potential Opportunity."
- Steve Fultz, Stuph Clothing
"Jeanne’s Really Been a Genius at Showing Me How Important Surveys Are.”
- New York Times #1 Bestselling Author, Jorge Cruise
"…surveys are the newest old way of cutting through the clutter on the Internet and getting the information you need to double or triple your sales"
- Susan Harrow, CEO of www.PRSecrets.com & author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul