Web Surveys: Grab IT Decision Maker’s Attention

Doug Barth Web Survey expertRunning a web survey can provide a cornucopia of ideas to “grab” IT decision maker’s attention.  Let me see if we can recharge your muse with these suggestions.
First, let’s review the well worn phrase, “IT decision makers are humans”, which means that they will react to the most basic of life’s issues: issues about themselves.  This is a BIG reason why web surveys are an excellent source of content.  Whenever you participate in a survey, you often wonder how your answers will compare to your peers.  You’re curious on several levels:  Did my answers reflect the norm?   What is the market thinking?  How am I different?
Take for example a recent survey we ran against an audience of marketing executives.  We asked “Which Movie Title Best Characterizes Your Marketing Efforts?”  Kind of fun, yes, but fascinating how the vast majority – 55% – chose the movie title, “Transformers”, as a way of explaining that positive changes were happening.  I guess marketers tend to be optimistic!

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Now think about coming up with compelling content for IT Decision Makers.  If you asked the question, “Would a faster performing network make your life easier?” you know you’d get 90% saying, “Yes!”  There’s a value to doing that – you’re engaging your audience … but it so obvious that you can’t do much with the results.  Kind of boring.
Let’s suggest a question that’s more provocative, such as, “What mistake could you make that would get you fired on the spot?”  Any IT decision maker – any professional – would want to read that.  And the copywriter in you could easily write a press release about the subject, and have fun analyzing all the answers.
But let’s continue to find something a little more professional, more true to an IT audience… but still edgy.  How about kicking off a debate, such as, “If you could reduce your maintenance costs by 50%, but have to adopt a second-rate solution, would you do it?”  Something like this is much harder to predict how the majority will answer and, therefore, give you more reasons to turn the page and see how the market answered.
This is a fun reality about doing surveys.  People will answer anything you ask them (unless they’re confusing or overly technical), and provide you with a stream of compelling, human-interest content.  And imagine how many ways you can repurpose their answers.
Let’s use as another example the question, “What pitch line is so good you’ll take the salesperson’s call?”  The choices might include, “Reduce costs while doubling capacity?” and, “Reduce security breeches to zero or our service is free.”  By asking a question this way you’ll learn some true priorities of your responder, such as their price sensitivity.  You’re also guaranteed to come up with a great headline for an email or a press release.  In fact, if you notice a serious spike – such as 70% saying they wanted to double capacity – you can be assured that the IT audience you’re hoping to reach will also have such a message resonate with them  (or about 70%, that is.)  It becomes a “hall of mirrors” effect.  The survey reveals the market’s deep sentiments, but broadcasting out those same sentiments is also guaranteed to tickle the market.
Surveys remind me of when a famous singer, while singing one of their mega-hits, holds the microphone back out to the audience.  We all like listening to a big, robust chorus, particularly if our voice is part of the sound.


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