Should I be adding new services to packages? Which ones?
Should I create an online course? On what topic?
I need to create content…should I create a blog or a YouTube channel?
Should I expand your niche or stick to whats working?
These are just a handful of questions you’ll likely come across as your business starts to grow!
But how the heck do you make such important decisions?!
Should you look at what your competitors are doing?
Shake a magic 8 ball?
Try 4 things at once and see which takes off?
No, no and no.
So who is the best person to tell you where to take your business next? Where can you find all-knowing business mentor who can just give you the right answer?
Well, it is—in fact—not just 1 all-knowing person…
How exactly do you get them to tell you what they want?
You talk to them.
Ground breaking! I know.
But let’s get real.
In practical terms, how exactly do you talk to and get feedback from your audience?
I personally do these 2 things every year to ensure I am in touch with what my audience wants and needs.
First, I hold subscriber chats!
Once a year, I open up a handful of 30 minute call times in my Acuity appointment scheduler and send out an email to my list inviting subscribers to book a call time and just hang out with me for 30 mins.
Last year, I held 10 of these calls, but there’s no hard and fast number of the ‘right’ number of calls. Do whatever works for your schedule.
I’m super interested to really get to know my subscribers. Their daily life. What they do job-wise. What their long-term business dreams are. Where they’re at in building their business. What they’re currently struggling with. What their biggest fears are around their business. Who else they follow online. How they like to consume content and educational resources.
If I’m stuck on the fence considering if I should be creating a podcast or a YouTube channel, I look back to the notes I took during my subscriber chats. If 7/10 mention they listen to podcasts daily and only 2 mentioned watching YouTube, my answer is clear.
If the theme of “I’m struggling to land enough legit clients to pay the bills” keeps popping up on every single call, that’s a pretty obvious sign I need to get to work creating something that helps them with that!
Subscriber chats provide my massively valuable info that I can then use to best serve my audience, and my subscribers tend to like to get to hang out and chat to the person who they seen online and who sends them emails weekly.
(More on the common mistakes people make when hosting subscriber chats a little later in this post!)
Now there’s one definite downside to subscriber chats.
It’s time consuming.
Doing 10 subscriber chats takes up a solid amount of time. If I have thousands of people on my email list, there’s no way I could dream of even chatting with 1% of them.
So while chatting with my subscribers is valuable for getting a true feeling of who it is I’m creating content for an sending emails to weekly, it really humanizes my online business, I have another method for getting feedback too that’s a lot more scalable, which I share below!
I personally find surveying soooo interesting and that it produces massively valuable info.
You can get hundreds and thousands of responses, and the number of responses you can gather is not at all tied to your time. Fabulous!
The major benefit of surveying over subscriber chats is that it’s scalable.
While you generally won’t get as in-depth about personal things like what people’s daily lives look like, you will be able to get some solid stats on more fundamental things.
So, the next obvious question is, how should you survey your audience?
There’s a zillion survey and form softwares online. Honestly, the one you choose isn’t massively important.
If I had to pick one deciding factor besides prices, it would be whether or not the software will record and collect partial responses, since not everyone is going to take the time to fill out every single question, but you don’t want their responses to be lost if they get distracted and don’t finish submitting the survey.
HOW you survey isn’t as important as actually DOING IT, so don’t let this minor detail of which form/survey software to use hold you up from making progress. Pick one and move on!
“What do I ask?!”
Think back to the dilemmas you’re having as you try to think through these tough decisions in your business?
(It’s assuming people are running an online business or want to as those are the type of people I tend to help.)
What field is your business is in?
How long have you been in business?
“My goal in my business this year is …”
Do you prefer learning by
Written blog post
Which types of content do you like best?
List the topics of your blog (if you have one)
How did you find me?
How often do you visit the site?
Why do you follow the blog? What keeps you coming back?
Use whatever method of marketing you have available to yourself.
Blog, email list, social media, word of mouth, podcast/video mention, etc.
Just make sure you’re only promoting this survey in places you can actually sell in the future. (See common mistakes below for why.)
I had 2 surveys I run every year. An on-going one and an annual one.
Here’s a post explaining why I use the two types and how I actually get people to complete them. (One of my surveys has thousands of responses, all from my own subscribers!)
The fun (but also sometimes time-consuming) part! Reading over the responses and for any written in responses (any short or longer answer questions that aren’t checking a box), begin to categorize them.
What categories should you use? The responses will give you your category options.
If you asked what’s peoples biggest struggles with learning Facebook ads and people keep mentioning in some way, shape or form ‘calculating the lifetime value of a lead’ or ‘deciding the best type of ad to run,’ make those your categories, and for each person who mentions something along those lines, start making a chart of ticks for each person who mentions one of those things.
Now, back to our original problem. Making decisions.
Say you’re thinking of launch a new product/service, but you don’t know if it should be a mini-class, webinar series, downloadable workbook, mastermind, one-on-one service or group program. Look back at your responses to see what respondents mentioned they liked best or had done in the past.
Whatever won on the survey, let that decide for you.
Bam. You now have a list of the exact pain points they wish someone would solve for them, and the exact language they would use to describe those problems.
Warning: Do not, I repeat, do not just try to get anyone to complete your survey!
Your goal is to get your audience, the people you can get in touch with again (eg. email list) to complete your survey.
Say you have 100 people on your email list, and so you fear that even if you get a good percentage of them to complete your survey, you still won’t have that many results.
So your next thought is, ‘ah perfect, I’ll post a link to my survey in a Facebook group that has thousands of people, and I’ll get more responses.’
Say you send your survey to your email list and post it in a Facebook group with thousands of people.
Your audience all says they want you to create fuzzy purple slippers. The people from the Facebook group says they want you to create velvet bedazzled slippers.
You make the velvet slippers, market them to the people you’re able to get in touch with again and again and again with (your email list) and nobody buys.
Worry about your people and no one else.
Another common mistake I see is that people offer $25 to Starbucks or $100 to Southwest airlines to complete their survey.
Who completes their survey? People who like Chai Lattes and that want to travel.
And you’ll be stuck back in the same place as before, unsure if the info in your survey really is reliable and being stuck in decision making analysis paralysis again.
Henry Ford is famously quoted as having said that, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
You are a creator. Your audience has problems. It’s your job to learn their struggles and problems and create solutions for them.
It’s your job to think outside the box and realize that when people say they want to get places faster, the solution may not just be to make a faster horse, but to build a car.
Ask people about their tendencies in the past, the problems and roadblocks they are facing on their way to their goals, and the way they like to learn/have services provided to them, etc.