Reading is fundamental.

Remember that? As a kid running around with jelly sandals and skorts. I remember that phrase ringing in my ears. Who knew that I would be writing for a living and my putting words to paper, would actually help someone else realize their dreams. Life is funny like that. All the small little pieces seem to just fit together somehow. Like a puzzle, even the most awkward little shapes fit somewhere perfectly in the grand scheme of things.

I was reading about business and marketing (my favorite subject). When I ran across this statement, “If you don’t know what your customer wants, just ask them?”

Reading that statement a few more times made me woozy. Could it be that all of our staff meetings and web conferences where a waste of time? All the planning new products and initiatives. The hundreds of hours that we spent last year developing an ad campaign for customers who might not even need what we wanted to provide to them.

I picked up the phone and read the statement aloud to our Creative Director. Silence. An obvious indication that she got it too. When we spoke there was an excited sadness if that’s possible. The optimism of what was next was underlining what felt like a waste of time on our part. Especially over the last three or four years.

We couldn’t stay there in that moment, wallowing on what we could have done before. The light turned on and we immediately went to work. Pulling one of our distribution lists, we were determined to do what we had been too busy to do in the past, “Ask customers what they needed!”

ASK. Just Ask

Because we were coming out of the blue conducting a survey. We both agreed that the survey should be short and not intrusive of anyone’s time.

2 Questions….check!

I also was concerned about the way we conducted the survey. We thought about using a third party vendor like SurveyMonkey. But decided against it because our desire was to truly engage this particular segment and not treat them like they were just a number in a flood of other numbers.

Facebook survey…check!

But there is one more thing that is so important in situations like this. Ask for permission to ask.

Yes, I know it sounds a little silly. But think about it. “Wouldn’t you want someone to ask if you can interrupt your day? Ultimately, it is a matter of simple common courtesy. And believe me, it paid dividends.

Almost all of our 2 question surveys were answered. 

It seems we had struck a nerve by just asking potential clients, what they needed, but was unable to solve themselves.

In full disclosure, I went in with my preconceived ideas about what the answers would be. But you know what? My preconceived notions were ill-conceived. Because only 1 in 10 answered the way I thought they would.

Talk about assumptions.

Today, we are well on our way to serving that particular segment more effectively. What’s more important is that we are changing our approach to how we do business.

Asking clients what they want is now our #1, numero uno priority.

No matter what business you have or are in or thinking of starting. You serve yourself and your customers well to have the conversation that leads you to find out what your customers need your help with. Don’t assume. Don’t guess. Don’t wait on them to tell you.

Be proactive and be ready to listen and respond.

Ask and you shall receive.

Deena Carson

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