Demo reports are one of the biggest missed opportunities in field marketing today.
- Demos and in-person field marketing events are a tremendous opportunity to capture consumer reactions and opinions about companies and their products.
- The primary feedback mechanism for demos and events is the demo report.
- Most companies fail to take full advantage of this feedback opportunity because their reporting process falls short: Report templates usually aren’t based on knowledge of the psychology of consumer surveying, and survey questions are rarely tied directly to specific operational and marketing measurables.
The good news is that these shortcomings are easily remedied. It turns out that consumers actually want to provide their inputs… to a limit. Companies simply need to learn what to ask, and how to ask it – and then be disciplined about asking for answers that will positively impact their bottom lines.
The Demo Report as Marketing Survey / FOCUS GROUP
For decades, marketers have longed for the kind of quantitative, qualitative feedback that focus groups provide. But there has traditionally been a big catch: conducting focus group studies is expensive and time-consuming, and the vast majority of non-huge companies couldn’t afford to do them.
But demos can be approached as a fantastically large, ongoing focus group. And in the last few years, technology and circumstances have combined to make it possible to gather data in a far more cost-effective manner, and in nearly real-time. If field marketers are disciplined about what information they are gathering, they can gain the same types of insights that a focus group provides – faster (real time), and on an ongoing basis.
The Voice of the Customer
In today’s market, more than ever customers want or even expect to be a part of what you do. Consumers increasingly look at the brands that they purchase as an extension of their personality and their values – and as such, they want and even expect to have an input into your process of deciding what you will offer them.
But this marketing “goodwill” does have its limits. As we see with virtually every information medium, attention spans these days are also shorter than ever before. Today’s consumers behave like the traditional executive: if you want some of their time, you’d better get right to the point, and not overstay your welcome. If we keep this in mind, we can interact with the consumer and leave them feeling educated, listened-to, respected, and not overburdened. It’s a challenging balance to strike, but well worth the effort involved.
The Challenges of Efficiency and Distortion
We’ve already touched upon the idea that we need to “get in and get out” quickly if we don’t want to overburden the consumer. In the grocery store, experience says that it’s generally a fair trade for us to offer the consumer something to sip or to nibble on, and in return, to ask them to tell us how they feel about our product. But try to imagine giving them a brownie bite or a kombucha sample, and then handing them a clipboard and asking them to fill out a 2-page survey. It’s a non-starter, of course.
We must therefore rely on our brand ambassadors to translate what they saw from that interaction with the consumer into useful data. And this of course introduces the problem of distortion – the potential difference between what the consumer actually felt, and what the ambassador thought the consumer felt.
Given that it’s unrealistic to send a professional marketing psychologist into every store to conduct our demos, how can we overcome this challenge? By focusing on well-crafted survey / report questions that are simple, well-directed, and unambiguous. The fewer questions we ask, the more focus can be applied to each. The less our questions rely on psychological expertise to interpret and answer, the less distortion we will get from that. And of course, we should be careful to consider the BA who will be reading the questions, and word our questions so the BA knows exactly what we’re asking.
Less-experienced marketers tend to want to throw everything they could possibly ask into their “ideal” survey. This is exactly what they should be avoiding. We need to understand that humans (today, anyway) are limited in how much we can ask of them – and that we will therefore (sooner rather than later) reach a point of diminishing returns. This goes for both consumers, and brand ambassadors. So ask only a few questions – enough to be useful, but not enough to be a burden.
Ask me nicely! Make me feel important!
If you’re a great marketer today, you are part nerdy data freak, and part social party animal. And since most BAs and consumers are not nerdy data freaks, you have to work hard to conceal this side of yourself, and deliver a survey experience that’s light and fun for them to fill out. So, when you’re crafting up that ideal demo report template, you’ll do well if you spend just as much time figuring out how to ask the questions in a fun way as you spend figuring out what you want to know.
A large part of the post-demo survey lies outside the survey itself. (Huh?) Let’s say you’re just a little bit confused as a brand manager about this whole science-of-surveys thing. On the one hand, we’re saying that we need to be clear, unambiguous, and to-the-point. Sounds kind of dry. But on the other hand, we’re saying that you have to ask your questions in a nice, fun, engaging way. How do we do this?
The key is in how you (and your ambassadors) set up the survey. Remember, people want (or even expect) you to take their opinions into account when you’re creating new products for them. (This is true for every demographic, but is especially true with the Gen-Y / Millennial types who are an increasingly important part of the market.) So, give them what they want! Before you ask your BAs to fill out the demo report, make sure to tell them why they are filling it out. Make sure that they know that their answers make a difference to you. Likewise, have your BAs say just a few words to shoppers about the survey questions: “We at Brand X really strive to bring you awesome, innovative products. We’d really value and appreciate it if you could answer 1 or 2 questions about the samples you just tasted. Would you be so kind?” After than kind of introduction, you can ask the driest question possible, and you’ll get a great answer. People will give you their best when they feel valued.
Post-demo surveys/reports are a dramatically under-utilized resource for field marketers. Nearly everybody does them… but very few do it well. But if you’re going to go through the trouble and expense of doing a demo, you may as well go the extra 10% and get 200% more value out of them by doing a great survey.
To help you get moving in the direction of more-effective demo reports, we’ve assembled a list of over 50 best-practice survey questions. The list is based on our experience working with hundreds of brands that have very similar needs to your own. Please feel free to download the e-book and select from the questions in it to upgrade your post-demo report today.
Hope this helps!
We’d love to hear your comments.