Twenty years before the hit entrepreneur reality show Shark Tank, Barbara Corcoran’s real estate company found itself in a flagging housing market, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. So, Barbara compiled data from her sales, typed it up, and mailed it to every reporter at the New York Times. Barbara’s “The Corcoran Report” was a hit, and she found herself quoted on the first page of the Real Estate section. Business boomed, and Barbara didn’t have to spend a penny.
Surveys Can Work for You, Too
Barbara’s genius marketing move changed her business long before the internet and social media entered the fray, but the consumer’s thirst for information–and by extension, the media’s–hasn’t slowed. People love to see themselves represented in the data, and as a small business owner, you’re perfectly poised to offer a story to the media that it can’t refuse. In fact, using surveys as a marketing strategy can truly set you apart from your competition.
How to Run a Survey
Surveys are extremely easy and inexpensive to run. First, decide what kind of information is missing from your localized market or (if you’re online only) your target customer. If you’re a local moving company, for example, you might poll your customers from the last six months to find out why they’re moving, where they’re moving to/from, and what life change precipitated the move.
Keep the survey brief, so customers want to fill it out, and consider offering an incentive for those who complete it (an entry in a drawing, for example). You can use any number of great (and often free) survey apps, such as Survey Monkey. Most require next to no tech expertise to create.
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Packaging the Data
Once your results are in, compile them into a report. You might also consider hiring a designer to create an infographic for the report, especially if you’re submitting to a print location. You’ll want to identify publications to share your results with, making sure your target media source is relevant to your potential customer; no sense getting a story placed in a local parenting magazine if your product is mostly used by seniors.
In addition to the data from the survey, you’ll also want to briefly explain why the data is relevant, and provide 1-2 timely, interesting quotes that can be used as soundbites. You can also offer an interview with an expert in your company.
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Journalists–both print and television–are constantly searching for stories that will resonate with their audiences. You might be accustomed to creating press releases heralding charity events and unusual business partnerships, but finding the unusual, the unexpected, or the unorthodox in survey data can be an even more powerful strategy. Bonus? It will cost you next to nothing.