questions & answers (Photo credit: thewhitestdogalive)
The Question Professionals:
When's the last time you answered the phone to be greeted by some pesky soul doing some kind of a survey or a poll? Annoying isn't it? They keep asking all these picky questions with the nuanced multiple choice answers. What do you do? Hang up on them? Give them a strong piece of your mind that doesn't have anything to do with the information they are asking about? Bark at them in an angry tone telling them not to call your number any more?
Next time you might want give pause before expressing your displeasure. The voice on the other end most likely belongs to a college student, a single mother, a retiree, or some other person who's just trying to pick up a paycheck to pay the bills. They don't mean to bother you--they're just doing their job.
Believe me, I know something about this having worked for a marketing research firm in Richmond, Virginia for a few years. I've spent plenty of time on the phone taking some abuse, but mostly talking with wonderful people who were more than willing to cooperate. I've even done the in person surveys in shopping malls, banks, and other sites.
But what's with all the questions anyway? Some folks can get mighty distrustful about some stranger asking what are sometimes rather personal questions? What are these questions all about and who wants to know?
Marketing research is a big business and companies and organizations spend a lot of money to get information from their customers and potential clients. The data they receive from this research can help them to improve the way they operate, test new products, compare themselves to competitors, or provide many other types of information that might make them better.
The real point of all the questions is to determine what the public thinks about something. Initially the questions need to be very specific, but in longer surveys the same questions may be asked in different ways in order to understand the nuances of public opinion. The wording of a question might be objective in order to get a true answer or the wording can be manipulative in order to skew the results. There are many types of surveys and many motives for administering surveys.
Do-It-Yourself Marketing Research:
For your own marketing efforts you probably won't ever need to resort to hiring a marketing research firm, but you can observe what they do, study up on the techniques they use, and formulate your own marketing strategy.
Asking questions is one of the best ways to find out what people think. Ask questions. And when you get answers listen to them and take note. Marketing research companies charge big money to ask questions and then analyze the results of the answers. Until you have the big money to spend make up your own surveys. Your results may not have the same scientific accuracy as what a professional company might produce, but you can get some pretty good ideas about your business approach and the effectiveness of it.
Questions stimulate conversation and help build relationships. This is a good reason why you should consider using questions in your blog posts if you aren't doing so already. Get the reader involved in what you are doing instead of spouting off from your soapbox and just expecting them to return daily to hear what you're going to say next.
Sharing your platform by setting up a dialog allows your readers, your customers, or your public to have a personal stake in what you are doing. What is meaningful to you will become more meaningful to them if they are a part of it.
Questions can open up doors as well as windows of possibilities. A good question is worth a thousand answers. It's up to you to listen and determine what those answers mean.
Q is for Questions:
One blogger who is not afraid to ask questions is Guilie at Quiet Laughter. During the A to Z Challenge, she's been covering some interesting topics that encourage more questions.
Another blogger who's blog is all about questions is Jen at Questions Unasked and Unanswered. Check to see what question she's asking today and if she doesn't have one then you can ask her your own question.
Do you like to ask questions? Do you answer telephone surveys? Have you ever done telephone survey or solicitation work?