Your Demo Reports are Way More Important than You Think (Part 1)

CEOs are not dumb. You may not understand their madness right now, but with any luck and a bunch of hard work, someday you will. And one thing that will get you there faster is your demo report template.

Wait… what???

Here’s the thing. Most CEOs know the value of getting out to visit customers or salespeople or production workers. It’s a reliable way of staying in direct touch with the people that make the business turn – and great insights and improvements often come of that interaction. But in the consumer retail world, hanging out with customers and salespeople is logistically pretty difficult.

So the question is, without actually going into the grocery store to park themselves at their shelf spot to wait for a customer to come by to talk to, how does a brand CEO today stay in touch with consumers, and find out what it’s like for their salespeople to sell their product?

In the past, there were 3 main ways: focus groups, surveys, and face-to-face demos. But focus groups are very expensive, and by now they have all but gone the way of the dinosaurs. Surveys are much cheaper, and are common enough, but unlike surveys of old, today they are done electronically… and emails and landing pages are not very personal, even if you are a good copywriter. Which brings us to demos.

Your CEO would LOVE to be confident that in-store demos are a smart, cost-efficient thing to do. Would. Love. To. It’s probably also true that if your CEO spent 3 hours behind a table in one of your stores, it would certainly be a valuable 3 hours! They would sell the heck out of your product. They would chat with store staff. They would take note if there were supply problems. They would make sure they paid attention to what the clients were feeling and saying, so they could take that knowledge back home and translate it into making a better product or delivery system.

So why is it, then, that often CEOs only reluctantly allocate money to do demos? It’s because they are not exactly sure what they are going to get back from YOU and your team. (And this is where you and your new demo report savvy come along and unexpectedly rock their world.)

The First Order of Business.

I’ve got just 3 words for you: ROI.

One sure way to cement your job security is to quantify (and demonstrate positive) ROI – ideally for ANY expenditure in your department. Ironically, one of the most difficult areas to calculate return on investment for is in marketing. And for nearly the entire retail grocery world, this mostly hasn’t been done in demos and events. Why? Because it’s not easy… or at least it hasn’t been in the past.

But if you think about it, if you were suddenly REQUIRED to demonstrate ROI, then you’d quickly realize that you need to measure a few things to put into the mathematical ROI formulas. We’ll talk about that in a separate post on the whole subject of field marketing ROI. But for now, you should realize that you need to be thinking about your ROI calculations when you begin setting up your ideal post-demo report form.

Now for the Bonus Round.

Sure, demos can and should be a great way to engage customers, educate them, put some samples in their mouths, and increase sales… and if you’ve already shown your CEO that the ROI on your demos is positive, you will be positively heroic.

But if your ambassadors are paying attention for you, there’s a lot more customer feedback available from that demo that would be extremely Sharpen your pencil and ask the right questions to get the most value from demo reports valuable back at HQ. The question is, how do we get at that feedback? The demo report form, of course! If you’re smart and think of the demo as a fast-moving focus group (link to part 2) where you’re interviewing shoppers on how they liked different aspects of your product, you can turn the demo feedback process into a super-valuable insight tool. But to get this value, you have to start by asking the right questions.

In order to ask the right questions, you first need to decide what answers will be most useful for your team and your CEO. What would they really like to know – confidently, supported by data?

There must be a thousand different questions you could ask on your demo report form. So, where to start? We have found that brand executives usually want to know only a few basic things… and most of them fall under “How are we doing” or “How can we improve” in these categories:

  • Brand ambassador performance
  • Product performance
  • Channel (store) performance

In addition, you’ll probably want to find out some basic information about the shoppers (demographics) and the demo itself (timing, duration, conditions) to give you some variables to correlate against. You’re looking for variables that you can change to predictably improve your demo program’s productivity.

Once you’ve decided what you want to ask, you now need to figure out how you are going to ask it. It turns out that how you ask is just as important as what you ask, and there is a whole field of study around the psychology of survey questions. There are different types of questions, and different ways of asking them depending on the circumstances. And once you have decided on the above, like a good writer, you need to spend some time crafting your questions so that they are clear, unambiguous, and will deliver the quantitative or qualitative answers you seek. Ideally, you want to ask your questions in a way that eliminates biases as much as possible, and that completely eliminates any need for the BA to guess what you are asking. (Keep reading for another 2 paragraphs, if you don’t want to spend a few months becoming an expert on survey question crafting.)

Focus!

Finally (at least for this post), you should realize 2 things: The first one is that people love it when you ask their opinion (this includes both shoppers and BAs)! They love it when they sense that you care about their opinions, and will use them to make a better product for them. That said, the second thing is that people hate it when you interrogate them for a long time (this includes both shoppers and BAs). So… priorities.

You have to decide what are the 1 or 2 important things you want to get out of this, and leave the rest out for now. It’s better to get quality answers on a couple of issues, than low-quality answers from someone who was rushing to answer all 25 questions you are asking.

So, for example, if your company is just starting out and you are still dialing in your ingredients and flavors, those might be your 1 or 2 focus areas. If you already know what tastes consumers prefer, perhaps you want a detailed picture of your pricing curve. Your job today is to think, “What would my team really like to know?” and then answer that question with hard data from your demos.

Summary:

This post is just the start. Survey design is an area that you could study deeply if you have the time and the desire. But if you want a shortcut, you can start by downloading our list of 50+ great demo report questions that you can pick from to help you design a focused demo report template that delivers the insights that you seek.With this e-booklet, you can gain most of the value of the best expert report designs in the industry, without having to do all of the work. (You’re welcome.)

Once you’ve got a data set based on your new questions, you will be able to derive more valuable insights out of it – which will increase the value of your demos in the eyes of the data-hungry executives that you need in your corporate corner.

And be sure to check out part 2 of this post, which will remind you of something that your mother probably tried to teach you as a kid (and which, if you are anything like me, you promptly forgot as soon as you became a marketer).

We’d love to hear your comments!

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Chris Ambarian is the Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Promomash, the world leader in cloud-based in-store demo management solutions. He can be reached at caa@promomash.com, or you can click here to follow his posts on his blog, Promote Better.
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