Direct Marketing, Mail Order, and E-commerce News from the National Mail Order Association

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Sources For A Successful Business Survey

When you wrote the first business plan for your small
company you may have done so because you needed a loan
to start the business and a business plan was required.
Now that the business is running well, have you taken the
time to upgrade your business plan to the market that you
are competing in today? You can hire a market research
firm to find out about your business competition and the
opinions of your customers but if this is outside your
budget then using a software template is another way
to conduct a business survey.

A well-designed survey takes the guesswork out of the market
research process. Many surveys are set up to ask questions
that will predict purchasing behaviors, client interests,
and trends. Surveys don't have to be lengthy or involve
deep questions; simple surveys may ask only one question.
For example, to keep viewers involved, American Idol has a
survey on its web site about who is your favorite
contestant. If predictions turn out right, the network has
some idea of which contestants will end up in the final
four. This prediction also helps the directors start
planning the final episodes.

The survey does not need to focus on your current products
but instead it can ask about the opinions, likes and
dislikes of the consumers in a particular market segment.
This type of survey may be useful for designing an
advertising campaign or modifying your product for greater
market appeal.

Before a business decides to go ahead with a survey, the
business must focus on what it plans to do with the answers.
For example, what does the business want to know about
customer service? Will the customer be interested in
certain services more than others?

Surveys are usually a bit time consuming. It can be a
little tricky sometimes to get the public or even other
businesses to participate. Incentives such as sweepstakes
or paying cash to those who complete the survey are ways to
motivate people.

The next item to consider is how you will collect and
analyze the data. Data analysis is not as straightforward
as simply counting answers. You may be thrilled to hear
that 95% of your customers who answered your survey are
satisfied with your service. However, if you find that
only 2% of those surveyed responded, are your results valid?
This is where statistical processing becomes critical to
proper interpretation of the survey results.

At the other extreme, if your business is such that you
expect thousands of responses, you may not have the
resources for analyzing the data and may need the help of
an outside consultant. However, when the survey size is
reasonably small, you may be able to use analytical software
in-house to interpret your survey results.

Online survey templates worth trying include those by
Question Pro at http://www.questionpro.com. These wizards
allow you to customize preset questions about your business
operations to a population of 100. The survey answers are
automatically evaluated and e-mailed directly to you.

If you are not using an online tool, free-standing software
programs are available. Perseus http://www.perseus.com
offers reasonably priced software that can handle the
market research needs of companies of all sizes. Perseus
also offers market research consulting services.

Constructing a meaningful survey requires knowledge and
skills that may require the expertise of a market research
firm. However many enterprising small businesses can
successfully conduct a survey on their own using the
software tools that are available on the market.

Copyright 2005 Fiona Indage. All rights reserved.
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Fiona Indage is the author and operator for F Survey
which is a primary resource for all your survey requirements
on the the Internet. Be sure to visit her complete archive
of articles here: http://www.fsurvey.com/
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