Friday, June 20, 2008

Inventive Incentives...

Earlier this week, I grabbed Taco Bell for lunch.

The back of the receipt offered me a chance at $1,000 for taking a quick online survey.

I never got around to taking that survey.

A month or so back, I grabbed BK. Their receipt promised me a BK Sandwich for taking their online survey.

I never took that survey either.

I may be atypical, but I don't think so. We live busy lives. We rarely have the time to take online surveys no matter what the payoff.

My intern, Maryann, recently researched the topic for me. She found a British study that showed that 79% of UK Doctors were willing to take a survey to enter a drawing for six bottles of champagne. Offered a chance of one of six bottles of champagne, only 70% responded. Researchers took this 9% difference to mean survey takers would be more likely to take a survey for a bigger prize even with lower odds.

I looked for a parallel US study. I found one of nurses. The researchers took a different tact. Their study gave half survey recipients a $3 Starbucks gift card before taking the survey and the other half a chance at a $250 cash drawing after taking the survey. About 42% responded when given the Starbucks card (likely out of a sense of gratitude or guilt). Only 28% of nurses responded to the $250 drawing.

So, what's that mean? I have no idea. I assume that the non-cash UK prize had a higher prestige value than that of the $250 US cash prize. Or maybe doctors have more time than nurses.

So, I still lack a definitive answer. But based on the other studies I scanned, a reward of some type will almost always increase the response to an opinion survey -- without creating any bias in results.

Homework: Do you ask customers for feedback on your product or service? What incentive do you use to encourage response? Try testing different incentives and see what works best for you. And let me know!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flying None...

Beth and I watched a couple episodes of “The Flying Nun” this week.

In one episode of the 1967 sitcom, Sister Bertrille (the flying nun) starts a “sea grape” juice business in the convent. The problem: there’s no market for the juice. In a comic turn of events, it ferments. There’s no market for the wine either, but they’re now operating an illegal winery. By time authorities trace the wine back to them, it’s turned to vinegar. It’s not illegal to make the vinegar, but there’s still no market for it. Ha. Ha. Ha.

The lesson here is not that 1960 sitcoms are corny, but that many organizations start with a product in mind, not a market. Marketing-centered organizations segment their organization by markets, not products.

The lesson? Work backwards: begin with the end in mind. Knowing what people want and creating it is much more productive than asking what you can make and trying to create a demand for it.

Homework: What’s the connection between your market and your product? Do you have one flyer, website or ad campaign to reach all your market segments? How can you become more customer-centered than product-centered?

Friday, June 06, 2008


This week, I’d like to share an custom-tailored snippet from an interview I’m doing on upselling for a client’s training CD …

So if you are upselling a customer, do you show him the next size up from
what he has now?

I think showing him just one size up is a disservice to your customer. You’re limiting his choices and your chances of getting a bigger order. I like the good, better, best approach.

How’s that work?

By showing your customer say an X, Y and Z version of the product, you’re showing a range of options. Given choice of good, better, best, most people will gravitate to the middle choice.


Some will want the biggest and best just because it’s the biggest and best. And some will be satisfied with the lower-end choice because it better fits their needs or their budgets. But in most situations, more sales will fall in the middle -- unless the pricing is way out of line or something like that.

Can you give too many choices?

Absolutely. I saw research showing that given too many choices, people will sometimes not buy anything at all. There’s a certain level of analysis paralysis with too many choices.

Can you give too few choices?

Absolutely. Given just two choices a little more than half of people will choose the lower-end choice (again assuming pricing is inline). So you are directing a lot of people to the lower end.

But, often that’s preferable to giving only one choice where the only two options are to buy or not buy. You see what I mean?

Homework: Does your marketing approach have upselling opportunities built in? Are you taking maximum advantage of upselling without overwhelming your customers with choices?

- Phil Sasso