Groups and forums
The internet is a worldwide community connecting people with common interests who would otherwise never have had the opportunity to meet. There are groups and forums dedicated to just about any topic imaginable. For you, the main benefit of finding a group or forum related to your subject is a pre-assembled bunch of folks you know will be interested in what you have.
When dealing with groups and forums, the worst thing you can do is join up and immediately post a message asking people to buy your product. For internet group members, this is like having a salesperson show up uninvited at the front door of their house. At best your message will be ignored; at worst, you may find yourself banned from the group before you get started.
When you find groups or forums relating to your topic, sign up and spend some time looking around, posting introductory messages and reading what the other members have to say. Reply to some posts and get to know some of them first. Then when you’re ready to start talking about your product, you’ll have a more receptive audience. During this time, do your research: notice what the group likes and dislikes, the things that interest them enough to spark long discussions. Pay attention to the general demographics of the group as well. What is an “average member” like? This will help you hone in further on your target market.
Here are some places to get started finding groups and forums:
Yahoo! Groups: A directory of online groups and forums hosted by Yahoo, searchable by category or keyword. Yahoo! is one of the most popular providers of free group sites—you might even consider starting your own free group so you can get to know your target market better.
Google group search: The search engine giant maintains separate engine listings for web sites, images, and groups. Just plug in your topic or keywords to find groups all over the internet related to your subject. You can also create your own free groups through Google.
MSN Groups: Another online community of groups and forums, with a handy by-subject index and a search box. MSN has free group and chat room creation as well.
Delphi Forums: A directory of internet forums, also searchable by keyword or topic and allowing free creation of your own forum for discussion.
Survey Says? Conducting marketing surveys
Marketing surveys are invaluable tools for discovering precise, targeted information about your intended audience. This method is so important, there are several companies that have made a business of providing marketing surveys to other businesses for a fee. The good news is, you can perform marketing surveys yourself without paying a dime and still get great results.
Ideally, you would institute a marketing survey after you’ve built an opt-in list (covered in a later chapter). But you can start mining your market for information even before you have your product ready. Groups and forums are good places to start; or you can set up a free mini-site just for your survey. You can even enlist friends and family to help you out by filling out surveys.
Constructing Your Survey
Have you ever received an offer for an exciting free gift provided you fill out a survey—only to discover the questions you had to answer required pages of information and would take up more of your time than you were willing to invest for whatever incentive was offered? This is a prime example of an ineffective marketing survey. You don’t want to lose consumer interest before they get to the good part: your product.
The principle of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) should apply liberally to marketing surveys. The easier you make it for people to fill out your survey, the more likely they will be to respond. Try to keep it to 20 questions or less, including demographic information (age, gender and location—do not ask for names, as most people prefer to remain anonymous when filling out surveys). Also, make as many as you can yes/no or multiple choice answers, and remember to include space for additional comments.
A well-designed survey will impress your customers – and that means more sales
One great way to get survey responses is to offer a free incentive upon completion. This can be an e-book, a mini-course, or even the full version of your product when it is released (if you choose to give away free product, be sure to state only a limited number of respondents will receive the free gift. This also creates urgency and helps to increase response). A full discussion on free incentives can be found further in these posts.
Next post: Setting Up Your Survey see ya later…