Archive for September, 2014

Want To Know What People Are Thinking? Ask Your Local Bookie

September 20, 2014

In the vote on Scottish succession from Great Britain the only pollsters who called results correctly were the legal bookmakers in England.

Throughout the long campaign, bookmakers pegged the results as 57% against succession. They were totally correct.

One key element to their success was what they asked survey participants.

While other pollsters were asking Scottish residents how they would vote, bookmakers were querying respondents on which side they thought would prevail.

In short, they asked what side the respondent thought would win. The answers were informed not by the individual’s vote but what others in their circle of contacts were saying. From those responses, the bookmakers set the odds and made money.

While not in the same magnitude as a national succession there are strategies to be learned for small business leaders seeking to identify clues to how customers perceive your business offering(s).

The primary lesson is how to frame questions to learn respondents’ perceptions of the products/services being offered.

Many small businesses utilize informal queries in stores or more formally through email surveys.

Over the years, at Information Strategies, we have learned indirect questions often elicit the most insightful answers.

For instance, when conducting in-store interviews, survey takers obtain the best results by asking questions of a non-personal nature. For instance:

  • What do you think visitors first see when entering the store?
  • How long do you think people browse before buying?
  • Where do other shoppers hear about the shop?
  • When do shoppers most shop?
  • How do they make a buy decision? By price? Quality? Service? Etc.
  • What are attributes of the products/services offered that most induces others to buy?

The answers are informed by the respondents own perceptions and there is much information to be gleaned from these responses.

When conducting focus groups, our company looks as much to the interactions as the answers. In these exchanges, we often see what influences the buying decisions.

For instance, in one focus group, there was one vocal critic of our client’s sales staff interaction with customers. Other participants, drawn from store cardholders, nodded in agreement and didn’t dispute his comments. This was a telling fact which had also surfaced in online services but not as forthrightly as the focus group demonstrated.

Previously, the store manager argued against this fact avowing her staff was experts at their jobs. The client was confirmed that she had a problem which needed to be addressed immediately.

Even in this age of social media, many people are reluctant to be too negative. They are more willing to attribute negative comments to others.

Market research experts utilize a variety of techniques and questions to identify answers to client needs.

For those small business leaders who use a more informal approach, indirect questions may be a way of obtaining solid feedback from customers and browsers alike.

British bookmakers are experts at gaining an edge against their bettors. It behooves small business leaders to take a leaf out of their book and add profits.