Asking the right questions
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Monday 26 September 2011
You don’t ask people how much they earn, women how much they weigh or short men how tall they are. All of this is perfectly understandable, as the questions will probably cause embarrassment.
There's another question, one which most business people never ask, and it’s not at all embarrassing. What’s more, if they asked it, they’d increase their sales and be able to focus their PR spend on stuff that works. This question is simple: “how did you hear about us?”
Yet asked in the right way – so it doesn’t disrupt the sales flow – this question will unlock masses of sales potential and will get you all sorts of vital PR info:
- Which customers are recommending you?
- Which media reaches the people you need to reach?
- Is your social media activity driving or supporting sales?
- Is networking delivering more or less than you thought?
- What events are worth attending and which don’t deliver?
- Did that leaflet campaign or newsletter work?
You get the drift.
I appreciate that people may answer with a mix of things. Many will say that they can’t remember or they may give a muddled response. But if you don’t ask, you will miss out on the few who can give you some genuine, valuable insights.
Let me give one tiny example: what if you found that one of your customers is constantly recommending you? Armed with this insight you would obviously thank them. But there’s more. The customer is clearly a raving fan – and has influence! Surely you’d connect with them on Linkedin and engage with them on Twitter, or perhaps ask them to like your Facebook page?
Better still, you could ask if you could work up a case study on how they are using your product or service. I’d suggest that you could also explore what it is about your product or service they love so much. For instance, there may be a member of your team who is doing something special and needs some recognition, or an aspect of your service that needs promoting.
From this one example, alone you can see where this kind of insight takes you, and your business. So please get used to asking the ‘un-askable’ Your PR will benefit, no question.
For more information, videos and advice for SMEs, visit www.freshbusinessthinking.com
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