Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Social Marketing Survey's - Are They Relevent?

In the life of any true marketer the need for validation is constant. We have a great idea but we want to know that others think it is a great idea BEFORE we expose it to the world. Enter SURVEYS and OPINION POLLS. While very formal procedures exist to gather statistically relevent data we must not forget the power of an "unsupervised opinion". By this I mean, the opinon people give when they do not believe the answer counts. The "unsupervised opinion" is one made from the GUT and not the HEAD.

I have conducted these "unsupervised" opinion polls for years in a variety of places, my most favorite being in a resturaunt where I engage the waiters or bartenders into discusion. The feedback you get on an idea, product, or service is refreshing and invaluable because they feel like their opinion is merely a part of the discussion and is certainly not being disected. I asked a waiter once, "Hey does your Chef use any of those gadgets they have on TV to slice and dice or marinate meat better?" The answer was "Not in this kitchen but he told me he bought the Magic Bullet. And I like that one where you can make donuts and pancakes. But my favorite TV product of all time are those lights you stick on the wall - I have them everywhere!" My real survey question was 'which infomercial products were making an inpact at that particular moment'. Do you agree I would have gotten a different response if I had phrased it in such a way? And better, what if I had asked 300 friends online the same question?

Let's turn to Social Marketing- social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and others. The comments expressed in the threads are generally more honest when it comes to products and services than one would expect. Recently, I posted a question on a social site that asked "What would make you buy an acne product on TV: testimonials, clinical studies, a personal success story, or if you could try it free?" As with any opinion poll/survey I was hoping that my GUT was validated and that I could finish my TV script quickly. The answers I recevied back were all over the board. Some traditional survey experts would say the achitecture of the survey was not correct as I should have gained a more specific set of answers. I say that the wide variety of opinions I received prove why it is so difficult to produce a TV HIT right out of the gate. Here are some of the responses I recieved:

Respondent #1: Forget a risk free trial, cheapens the product. Celeb testimonials.

Respondent #2: testimonials that are believable. I bought ProActive before they had all the celeb endorsements... some are so bogus -- just about everyone can sniff a paid testimonial. Has to be real people making real statements. Best one ... Read Moreever was the Pepsi challenge. It felt" real" because they were on the streets doing it -- If you could re-invent that for an acne solution, BINGO!

Respondent #3: Word of mouth is best, but I guess you can't do that. Barring that, for an acne medication, probably risk-free trial. I would want to try it before I invested any money.

I recieved over 50 responses in a 24 hour period either posted publically and privately. The commentary was very specific about what they would need to make a purchase.
I have always thought that an email SPAM campaign was a massive form of a public opinion poll. Use one sentence to peak interest in a product and get strangers to open the email. Your open rate on that SPAM tells you the interest of the averge consumer on your product and their conversion rate states their final opinion on IF the creative angle was effective. Some email marketers will send out a dozen email creatives in SPAM to millions of people trying to narrow down the best offer and creative for roll out - basing their decision on the click-thru rate. The difference here is that the respondent has one choice - 'do you like this creative angle on this product and would you buy it?' By using social media interactions you allows respondents a choice in their response which yeilds more relevant information. The problem is scale!
How scaleable is social media? How many friends do you have to have on a Facebook site or followers on Twitter to make the data collection relative? Can you translate the "unsupervised" opinions into techniques that sell more product? Is social media able to generate revenue? It is not an easy answer but it is definely a YES!
Online marketers will agree that the days when a carefully placed newspaper or radio ad was the answer to building customers have come and gone. They will tell you that your target audience receives their marketing and sales messages through an ever-growing number of media channels – with Social Media and networking sites at the top of that list. I would say that these mediums are joined at the hip, not independent of each other, and can actually work together to produce highly impactful audience response and ultimately sales.
The next time you purchase a spot radio ad or a print ad ask yourself "What will people say about this on Twitter or Facebook?" And the next time you buy a banner ad or send a marketing email ask yourself "Does this have as much credibility as a headline story on the nightly news?" These two questions will guide your creative and marketing efforts in a whole new way. You'll be using Social Marleting Survey's to improve the response rates on your traditional advertising as a standard without giving up tried and true methods like radio and print - even TV!
Gotta go now... I'm late for a social media date!

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