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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

How to create effective customer questionnaires

The humble questionnaire is a very powerful tool. Not only does it allow you to find out what your customers think, it’s also a great way to boost customer loyalty and build relationships. But what makes a successful questionnaire? Drayton Bird and Andrew Boddington have the answers

Nobody knows more about questionnaires than my colleague Andrew Boddington, who is one of the best direct marketers I know.

I have worked with him for many years now off and on. So, after one or two comments from me, he has kindly written a quick guide to what you should know about the subject.

Why questionnaires?

Some techniques - and questionnaires are a good example - are so deceptively simple and obvious that marketers ignore them. They're not "creative" enough.

Well, forget "creative". I like things that work. And questionnaires work.

People love to give you their opinions. The questionnaire is a very unthreatening way to approach people.

You just have to ask nicely and often amazingly high percentages will reply.

When they do reply, this gives you an excuse to talk to them again.

So here is Andrew's advice for you:

  • People agonise over making the survey short for maximum response, but do not fear a long survey. As long as the first few questions seem natural and logical to the reader, they will complete it.
  • If you have some questions which are more important than others, make sure the survey has clear sections - the first with the main questions, then the next with an introduction such as "You do not have to answer these, but if you do so, it'll mean x, y and z benefit...and will only take a few minutes more..."
  • Response can be increased by a variety of details. A lot depends on the honesty in the introduction, explaining why you are doing the survey, what is in it for the responder (altruism, sense of helping self or fellows, and maybe even the chance to win something in a free draw, as a gesture of thanks), explaining how the results will be used, and even how they can see a copy of the results (usually a simple summary).
  • People love being asked for their opinion ("your opinion matters to us"), so use flattery to increase participation.
  • Make the introduction from someone they already might know and respect, rather than have no name at all. Even have it look like a letter, with a signature and photo for a touch of warmth.
  • Much depends on the layout, the clarity of typeface and typography, and the use of colours, tints and boxed sections make it look less daunting.
  • It sounds radical, but question how much response is really needed. Statistically a lower response sample may be fine, as long as the views are representative.
  • Try a reminder mailing/emailing after the natural response has dried up from the first survey. Non-responders are not against responding, they just have busy lives, so a courteous reminder will typically get half as much response again.
  • Consider how/when the survey gets handed over, emailed or mailed. Is there a better moment, so they'll be more disposed to take part?

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