It consists of just nine words, but has permanently changed the way I create, sell and market my products online.
In fact, this one question dictates how I build intricate online courses, craft marketing and email copy and much more.
Before I reveal what it is, I must explain why it is so important to utilize this approach in your business.
Your Customers Care About Themselves - Morning, Noon and After Dinner
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in creating and/or marketing a product or service online (or anywhere else) is not first asking your ideal customer what he or she wants.
"People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me," wrote Dale Carnegie in How To Win Friends and Influence People. "They are interested in themselves - morning, noon and after dinner."
"The point is this," adds David J. Schwartz in The Magic of Thinking Big, "To get others to do what you want them to do, you must see things through their eyes."
A perfect (and real life) example of this situation happened for me recently.
I'm in the midst of creating a new online course on Content Marketing, and thought I knew exactly where my audience was with this topic.
Boy, was I wrong!
Before I explain what happened, let's dive into what this customer survey strategy is and how to utilize it.
The Big Question
It's called "The 1 Question Survey," and I first discovered it via online course creator David Siteman Garland.
When you deploy this strategy, not only do you learn what your ideal audience actually wants you to create and/or sell to them, you also discover how they want you to communicate to them about it (meaning the words and phrases to use, etc.)
Last (and most important!), you are able to close the gap between what you think your ideal customer knows and wants versus what he or she actually says he or she wants.
In my case, with my new course on Content Marketing, I just assumed my current customers already knew what the topic was all about, and that they were more interested in the "how to" type questions about utilizing it.
I was in for a giant surprise, as I'll share in a bit.
The 1 Question Survey
First, here's the template you can utilize for the 1 Question Survey:
"What do you want to know more about [BLANK]?"
You just replace "BLANK" with the topic you want the audience to tell you about.
Another variation I like to use is swapping in the word "most" for "more," so it reads like this:
"What do you want to know most about [BLANK]?"
In my case, I wrote, "What do you want to know most about Content Marketing?"
Next, I set up a simple (and free) survey via Google Forms, and (this is important!) I did not ask for anyone's name, email or contact information.
Instead, it was just that one simple question - fast and easy, plus anonymity to encourage honesty:
Use This Email Template
I sent the following email to my customers, linking to the survey:
(Subject Line): quick question
(Email Body): So I have one quick, burning question I'd love to get your answer to.
It should only take you a few seconds, and it's something you'll definitely want to answer.
Thanks in advance - I'm excited to read your answers!
-- John Nemo
The Response That Shocked Me
Here's where I was in for a big surprise.
Again, I'd just assumed everyone already "got" or "knew" what Content Marketing was all about.
Instead, several of my customers wrote variations of this answer: "I don't know what that term means. What exactly is Content Marketing? How do you define it?"
So that issue now becomes Item 1 in my sales copy ...
"What is Content Marketing? (And Why Should You Care?)"
Had I not run the 1 Question Survey prior to starting this course (and all the marketing efforts behind it), I would have had a major disconnect with my existing customers and not realized why.
Nobody wants to a buy a course on a topic they don't fully "get," right?
This is why I love doing the 1 Question Survey before I create a new product, put together sales copy for a specific type of product or anything else.
How To Use The 1 Question Survey
You can utilize this strategy anywhere, anytime ... in a LinkedIn message, an email blast to existing clients or prospects, as a social media post on Facebook asking for feedback, and so on.
I suggest using a tool like Google Forms and directing everyone there to share their answer, because then you get an organized list of responses you can download and examine.
Study (And Apply) The Results!
Even more important than the survey itself is actually studying and applying the results to your copywriting and marketing efforts.
Once I get enough responses to feel like I have a consensus on some topics, I go into Basecamp and create a list of the top themes I see, along with great "quotes" people utilized in their specific answers.
Now, when I go out to create landing pages, email copy and bullet points, I have specific words and phrases straight from the mouths of my customers that I can utilize to make sure my communications hit home and use the same language and wording they do.
I also have guidance on what to put into the modules of my new course and the biggest questions I need to answer in order to make the course appealing to my current customers.
Simple and Effective
It's easy to skip right over the step of actually asking your ideal clients and customers what they want or how they want to be marketed to, especially if you think you know it all.
But, as Schwartz points out in The Magic of Thinking Big, you need to "trade minds" with your audience.
"When you trade minds, the secret of how to influence other people effectively shows up," he writes. "Keep this question in mind: 'What would I think of this if I exchanged places with the other person?' It paves the way to more successful action."
Having written his bestselling book back in 1959, Schwartz had no idea of the advantages we have in today's technological wonderland.
Make sure you take advantage and utilize the 1 Question Survey approach accordingly!