Ask any expert, and they’ll probably agree that the #1 reason businesses fail is that they lost touch with what their market really wanted.
In fact, the more heavy lifting you put into the research process, the easier and more lucrative it’ll be when executing your actual marketing and sales plans.
While most businesses cover the mainstream market research efforts, like keyword research and competitor analysis, there’s another method flying under the radar that’s secretly making companies millions — possibly even billions — of dollars, and it comes in the form of a relatively simple DIY survey.
Why You Should Go Deeper than Keyword Research & Competitive Analysis
Sure — it’s important to understand market trends and macro-level behaviors. We aren’t trying to argue that you should stop doing that! But understanding what your audience is thinking that drives those behaviors is a different — and deeply enlightening — animal.
Imagine a world where you no longer have to guess at what a search query really means to your visitors, because your audience simply tells you exactly what they think and feel about it.
A world where they also tell you in plain terms exactly where your competitors are falling short (i.e. what your Unique Selling Position can be in the marketplace).
I’m happy to inform you: that world exists.
If you find yourself feeling like you’re on the right track with understanding what your audience wants from you, but still aren’t sure you’re really hitting the mark, this method of market research might change your entire world.
Introducing the A&D Method of Market Research
Originally a token of The Ask Method by bestselling author Ryan Levesque, we were introduced to an updated version of this research method by Multi-Million Dollar Copywriter & Marketing Strategist Tori Reid. She calls her version the Ask & Deliver (or A&D for short).
The method is simple on a surface level. You create a survey, send it to your audience, and analyze the results. But there’s a specific way Tori conducts each of these steps and we got to experience the magic of this for ourselves.
Hopefully you’ll see the magic too, as we explain the steps to you.
Step 1: Build & Send the Survey
Each time one of her clients (including us) is gearing up to promote a new product or service, Tori has them run this survey to a target audience of leads who have not purchased yet. (The non-buyer part is important. Write that down).
Essentially, you want to send it to a list of people who fit your target audience, are interested in your general industry or niche, and have experience working with your competition — but don’t have experience working with you yet.
This could be your email list, Facebook Group, or even a list you built from a giveaway contest.
The key is to keep an eye out for where you can reach your target audience, and how you can put the survey in front of them in a way that incentivizes them to take action and fill it out.
Tori’s version of the survey encompasses a list of open-ended questions that are as follows:
- What are your top 3 goals with [whatever your product or service is meant to help them with]?
- What roadblocks are standing in the way of you hitting those goals?
- What methods have you tried to get through those roadblocks?
- What frustrations have you had with those methods?
- What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered with [whatever your product or service is meant to help them with]?
- How about fears? What do you want to avoid happening at all cost when it comes to [whatever your product or service is meant to help them with]?
If you’re selling online courses or coaching, a good additional question is to ask what questions they have about whatever your product or service is meant to help them with.
The best part is you don’t necessarily need a large data set for this type of research. Of course, the more the merrier, but we’ve gotten great results with as few as about 20 responses.
You’ll need a form or survey software to run this, luckily Google has a free option with minimal branding. If dressing it up is important to you, Typeform is a really great option.
Warning: the anchor question (question #1) is important to get right, and you can get it wrong. It sets the context for the entire rest of the survey, so if that one question is off the mark, the rest of the survey will automatically follow suit.
So as a note, make sure you ask about goals oriented to a process instead of a product or service. For instance, a fitness trainer would ask about goals with “losing weight” or “building muscle”, not “finding the right fitness trainer.”
Step 2: Analyze the Results
There’s one primary theme with analyzing the results, which is to spot the trends and take a tally.
The most popular trending goals are the one you want to take head-on (and address the most in your sales copy and content). The same goes for the top trending roadblocks, frustrations, fears, etc.
This is where headlines like “How to Lose Weight Without Quitting Carbs” come into play. If you templatize that headline, it becomes “How to get [#1 goal] without [#1 roadblock].” The feedback you receive will take understanding pain points and desires to another level. You don’t have to guess or be subjective in this.
While the top trending sentiments from your audience lead the way, don’t neglect the others. They still serve as great talking points and give you a well-rounded content approach that leaves no objection untouched.
While this is the simplest way to explain how to analyze the survey, there are some complications that might come up for you.
You’ll Often Have to Read Between the Lines
Since these are open-ended questions instead of multiple-choice, you’ll have to read between the lines to pick up the trends.
For instance, if one answer is “I’m not motivated” and another is “I can just never find the time” — you might bucket those into the same answer of “motivation/time” when working up your tally points. Because the truth is, we all know people give time to the things that motivate them.
This is also true for “I don’t have the budget”, which is often a nice way of saying “I don’t have the budget for that because I’d rather buy other stuff.”
It’s important to know when your audience is euphemizing a lack of motivation versus a serious lack of time and resources to make something happen. This is going to affect how you approach the sale. If it’s really motivation, you’ll need to motivate them or shift to an audience that’s more inherently motivated.
If it’s really time, you’ll want to implement time-based improvements on what you’re selling against your competitors (though ultimately you’ll want to do at least a bit of both, while maybe applying more focus to one).
But there are other examples of respondents just using different language to describe a like-minded sentiment. For example, one person may answer “I want more sales” while another says “I want more clients” — again, this would fall into the same general category and point to a trend in your audience’s desires.
As you take note of what they’re really trying to say, categorize and tally up those answers to quantify the data. You can do it on paper, in a doc or in a spreadsheet, as long as you get it done.
In the end you want to have at least three top trending responses per question, though the more the merrier.
Step 3: Their Language vs. Your Language
It’s critical that you note something right now: it is highly like that you do not naturally speak the same language as your audience.
In fact, there are very few circumstances in which this isn’t the case, so if you’re not sure, it’s probably true for you.
It’s almost guaranteed that any industry expert, marketing or salesperson has done far more research on what they’re selling, and the general topic around that product or service, than the person they’re selling to.
You also spend more time in the “expert” circle of your industry, versus the layman consumer. This means you speak an “expert” language about the thing you’re selling. Think in terms of a doctor-patient scenario, or a lawyer-client scenario.
It doesn’t always take an 8-year degree to develop key differences in vernacular. You especially know this if you’ve been in a situation where you couldn’t understand your mechanic, plumber, or fitness instructor simply because they used terms you weren’t yet familiar with.
The last thing you want is for your audience to be confused. Confused people don’t buy, and are much quicker to bounce from the page to find an article or video that meets them where they’re at by speaking their language.
Luckily, the survey results help remedy this too, with a simple rule. Use their words in your content and copy, not your own.
A simple example Tori gives from personal experience is that a beginner blogging audience doesn’t know (and doesn’t respond) to the term “lead magnet.”
In a test she ran, posts with that term ended up getting zero engagement and traffic in a group that’s predominantly new to online business. When she ran a survey and realized they say “freebie,” she swapped out the term in the post, and left the rest the same. Engagement and responses skyrocketed, as did sales on that specific offer.
Remember, a confused audience doesn’t buy. Speak their language.
Once you’ve analyzed the survey, tallied up the trending answers, and taken note of the language, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned from the data.
Step 4: Application
Make a categorized list of the top 3-7 trending answers from each question. If you don’t have enough top trending answers or aren’t seeing clear trends at all yet, get some more responses until they start to appear.
Rework your top trenders into topics to cover in your content and copy, and pair those topics with your keyword research. (Remember to be mindful of language.)
When writing your actual content and copy, make a habit of using the document to plug in the pain points (frustrations, roadblocks, fears) and desires (goals) as verbatim as possible in the content and copy.
There’s plenty of other room in the piece to be creative, but it’s when you’re speaking on someone else’s feelings that it’s particularly important to make sure they know that you know exactly what those feelings are. Repeating their own words back to them is the simplest way to help your audience feel understood, and reassure them that they’re in the right place.
It’s also important to use the “methods you’ve tried” answers to be accurate in understanding and writing about the alternatives that your audience is actually paying attention to. For example: not every weight loss audience will trend “fad diet” as an alternative method to whatever you’re selling them. Pay attention to what your specific audience, that you will specifically be selling to, is telling you about their experience.
Also make a habit of using the #1 trending pieces in headlines, subject lines and titles. These will help them jump out at your audience, which will drive up your traffic.
And here’s a bonus note for you: The effect of this doesn’t begin and end with copy.
This will actually shed light on the types of products and services your audience is looking for. If you plug their answers into a “I will help you achieve [goal] without [roadblock], [fear], or [frustration]” you might find that you’re being challenged to sell them a solution they would consider an “upgrade” to what you currently have on the table. That’s not a bad thing. They’re telling you what they really want to buy.
All you have to do is offer it to them.
I know this is probably a lot to take in with all the nuance, so here’s the simple version:
Step 1: Create the A&D survey using the questions listed above
Step 2: Send it to people in your target audience who have not purchased from you yet, using a Facebook Group, your email list, a blog post, an ad, etc.
Step 3: Once you get 20+ responses (or enough to see trends) tally up a list of 3-7 top trending responses per question. If you aren’t seeing enough trends yet, keep collecting answers until you do.
Step 4: Take note of the specific language your audience is speaking to describe their experience, pain points, and desires.
Step 5: Use the answers to write your copy, content, pair with your keyword research, and update your products and services to offer your target audience exactly what they said they wanted.
The easiest way to produce great offers and copy is to simply ask the audience what they want, and offer it to them. This survey is the key to helping you do this.
Sound too hard? Contact us and we’ll do it for you.