Get to know your Vail Valley customers with surveys |

Get to know your Vail Valley customers with surveys

Kelly Coffey
Vail, CO, Colorado

If “know thy customer” is the golden rule of marketing, then market research ” in one form or another ” is the only way your business is going to get the gold. The more information you have on your customers and target market, the more you can tailor your business to fit your customers’ needs. The result: happier customers, less waste, and more profits.

An inexpensive way to get to know your customers is to create a survey. With a little thought and planning, you can get the answers you need to make the right business decisions.

To create a survey you need to do two things: Create the content of the survey, and plan the channels that you will reach your target market. You need to do these two steps together, since they’re so interrelated.

Begin by figuring out your research goals. What do you want to find out from this effort? A 15-question survey can’t guide every business decision. Narrow down the survey’s goal to something specific. Do you want to launch a new product line? Do you want to know why customers shop with your competitor?

Having the ultimate research goal in mind will help make the other planning decisions easier.

You can conduct the survey either in written or oral form. Written surveys require the least labor on your end, but will have a much lower response rate than oral surveys. You can give written surveys to customers at your point of sales, mail them to your target market, or even send the surveys via e-mail. Many e-mail survey programs allow the survey to adapt to different answers, a handy feature.

Oral surveys ” done either in person or over the phone ” will generally have a higher response rate than written surveys, mainly because it’s harder to say no to an actual person. While the labor involved on your end is higher, oral surveys give the opportunity for the researcher to guide the customer through difficult questions or even probe deeper on certain answers. If a popular event has the same demographics as your target market, getting oral surveys from the crowd may be an ideal way to go. Just make sure you have permission from the event planner first.

It’s important to keep your survey short. Nobody will wade through a questionnaire that looks like the SAT test. A survey of between six and 12 questions is ideal. It’s quick enough to not waste someone’s time, but deep enough to give you valuable insight. But every question will have to pull its weight. Don’t ask anything unless it pertains exactly to your research goal.

How many respondents do you need to make your data accurate? If you’re just looking for anecdotal information, you won’t need hundreds of completed questionnaires to make the data statistically significant. However, you do want to make sure you get a good representation of your entire target market. That doesn’t just mean numbers. That means you need to make sure your surveys reach the right people. You need to hear the opinions of the silent majority, not just the vocal minority.

Edwards resident Kelly Coffey is the founder of Harebrained Marketing, a firm that specializes in connecting local businesses with local customers. Reach him at or 970-926-0888.

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