Ask And Ye Shall Sell: 5 Ways To Find Out What Your Customers Want and Need

How much easier would it be to sell stuff to your customers if you knew exactly what they wanted to buy?

This would certainly be a good way to make more money from your food business on or off line.

It would be like “shooting fish in a barrel” — this expression sounds like it was written by a bunch of drunk dudes, late at night on a fishing trip. It sounds like a good way to get hit by stray bullets bouncing off fish that you somehow caught, then placed in a barrel, then decided you needed to shoot… Clearly an idea that only makes sense if you’re completely off your face.

But it certainly would be easy, which is what you want.

Ask your customers WHAT THEY WANT, MAKE THAT and SELL IT TO THEM.

The easiest way to do this is to ask them questions.

GET ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS LIKE:

  • What do they like about your service or product?
  • What’s annoys them about your service or product?
  • What problems are they having that your service/product could solve for them?
  • What would make their experience better?
  • What other products would they like you to offer?
  • What information is missing that would make it easier for them to use your product?
  • What do you want to see more of on my blog?

Try to ask open ended questions as opposed to close ended questions with “Yes” or “No” or finite answers.

MY SURVEY
I have many ideas for what to write about in this blog, but I decided to hone into what my readers really want by creating this survey.

By asking people on my mailing list and in my target audience: what they are struggling with? I can craft blog posts that will help them solve specific problems they’re having.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW?
Before you decide what to ask them, make sure your staff and/or you are clear about what you want to know.

Ask yourself:

  • What are we hoping to gain as a result of asking these questions?
  • What will we do with the responses?
  • How will their answers lead to making more money in my food business?

Then, make sure your questions are tailored so you get answers that support the results you want.

In the old days, food businesses did this by serving feedback cards with the check.

Now technology allows us to do this easily.

ANSWER MY SURVEY

Five Ways To Find Out What Your Customers Want and Need

Ask Them: In a brick and mortar business, you can ask them in person. This is in the moment which is a great way to get the answers you want, but the answers can be hard to keep track of unless you have a system to collect the responses. Still it’s highly effective because the person is present and they will usually answer a question or two.

ACTION: Create a series of questions and share them with your staff. Ask one or two of them to your customers while they are in your store. Keep track of the answers.

ANSWER MY SURVEY

Survey Them: You can use a company like Survey Monkey to create and send a series of questions in a survey. They have pre-crafted questions you can use straight away or just use as inspiration for your own questions. It’s free for up to ten questions.

You can see the results, but you have to upgrade to a paid version to print and share the results. I get around this by taking screen shots of the results.

Wufoo is a web service that allows you to create online forms for any reason. It has a basic free option.

Google Docs has a form creation feature too that’s always free, but the responses come in a spreadsheet and not in a report like the other two.

In addition to these, there are many ways to make a survey, but the trick is not to get bogged down choosing which one. Choose a method, see how it goes and switch if you don’t like it.

You can embed your survey or form links in emails, newsletters and social media posts.

ACTION: Make a survey or form and share it with your readers and followers. Put it in a blog post like I did.

ANSWER MY SURVEY

Email Them: Keep it simple. Write a short email asking if they would like to answer a short survey and embed the link to the survey or form in the email. You could just send them the survey questions in the email, but then you have to read each email to get the answers and keep track of the answers manually which is a lot more work.

ACTION: Craft a short email asking your customers to complete the survey. Preface the request by thanking your customers or, if you have time, send individual emails where you recall a specific instance with the customer. This is the most effective way to do this, but it’s time consuming.

You could sweeten the deal by offering a discount or a bonus to anyone who completes the survey or form.

ANSWER MY SURVEY

Social Media Ask: You can post links to your survey/form to the people who follow you and your food business on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Linked In, etc.

You can post it to Linked In, Facebook, Yahoo groups and more in your target market.

I’m always surprised that people opening restaurants in my neighborhood don’t ask what the people who are in the neighborhood group on Yahoo what kind of restaurant they’d like. That’s why we have six Japanese restaurants within five blocks of each other and four Thai restaurants within a four block square.

How much more successful would your food business be if you were catering to what the people in the neighborhood actually wanted?

ACTION: If you have not already done so, figure out where your target market gathers on the internet and join the “conversation” there.

In addition to your survey, develop a strong question or opening statement to use a headline or subject line in your posts on social media platforms. Create a few 140 character Twitter posts related to your survey. Post periodically or schedule the posts ahead of time with a social media management tool to make it easier.

ANSWER MY SURVEY

Ask Via Feedback Cards/Suggestion Box: Go old school. I still see feedback cards in restaurants. I’ve even filled in a few lately so this old school method still works. You can also put a suggestion box out if that’s what works for your business. You could tie this to a coupon or discount so customers get an incentive for their efforts.

ACTION: Design feedback cards with questions or a suggestion box that asks a compelling question. Think about ways to entice customers to give their feedback like The Most Valuable Feedback will going into a drawing to win a  ________.

Whatever method you use to find out what your customers want and need, do it. You will find that catering directly to them will make it easy for them to buy from you… As “easy” as shooting fish in a barrel, but a lot more sensible…

ANSWER MY SURVEY

Build Your Network With Compassion: A Lesson Learned From A Cat Who Peed In The Toilet

My Cat Leo Is Clearly No Emily

I don't do toilets... or windows.

Back in the 90′s when I lived in Australia, my friend Bev had one of the meanest cats I’d ever met, Emily. She was a rescue and she was almost feral. You couldn’t touch her and she’d sneer if you looked at her too long, but she was an incredible mouser and she peed in the toilet.

I am a cat freak — you can just give me “the crazy cat lady hat” right now. Back then, I really wanted Emily to love me so I kept trying to love her and pet her and that nasty cat dissed me every time. Clearly, when I wanted to feel cat love she was NOT the go to kitty. So I wrote her off.

However, when my Australian bungalow was infested with mice after I left my then husband there alone for a month and I came back to find rodents nesting in rotting pizza boxes and in the folds of the bed sheets he was sleeping on [yes completely disgusting, I know -- I dumped him], Emily was my savior.

What does this have to do with growing your business-abilities?

Emily may not have been the cat to see when you wanted warmth and affection, but she had value.

Everyone has value. You. Me. Even the people where it’s not apparent to you. Let’s call them people you don’t like.

Where in your business life do you have negative energy around the people who piss you off?

How much time do you waste focusing on that?

I have written off many people in my life. That one’s an ASSHOLE! This one’s a self serving narcissist. She’s a BITCH!! (that one has no doubt been said about me).

As humans, we are antagonistic and we write off people every day because we don’t like them or they did something to offend us, or they looked at us funny. This is a normal option and we take it.

BUT this also creates negative energy and makes our worlds, my world smaller and that is not OK with me.

IS IT THEM? OR IS IT ME?

I have a theory that when I don’t like someone, there are up to three things going on:

MY OWN WEAKNESS REVEALED
When I’m reacting to and judging the weaknesses in others, I’m often seeing something in them that reminds me of a weakness in myself: something that I don’t like to be reminded of. I have the same lack of compassion for their weakness that I do for my own.

We are our own harshest critics, yet we are all reflections of each other.

If I’m judging you harshly, you can only imagine the lashing I give myself for my “wrong doings”. This tends to feed all my self doubt, lack of self worth, and keeps me down and unhappy.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that. I want to feed the stuff that makes me strong, confident and happy. For me the lesson is to be more compassionate to others and to myself.

JUDGING THE PART BY THE WHOLE
When I’ve been WRONGED, I look at what the person has done to piss me off. I dive right into that wrong doing and dissect it. I get very righteous and look at how it clashes with my principles and what I perceive is the right thing to do. I make that wrong doing HUGE! I extend it to who they are as a person and I make them WRONG, WRONG, ALL WRONG!!!

But perhaps it’s me who’s been wrong all along… or at least inaccurate.

What could be more accurate is realizing that what they have done is just part of them like their hand or just their foot. What’s a smarter choice is knowing in this particular instance or circumstance I cannot trust them. It’s a much more positive place to come from than deciding I don’t like all of them.

I caught myself recently grappling with this issue with someone I liked a lot who really pissed me off. I was all feisty and snarly. I got a lot of agreement from others that I was WRONGED. I wanted the person to feel MY WRATH (I give good wrath).

Instead, I decided to take a step back. I decided to look at the part of them that caused me the injustice, as if it were just a gangrene limb and the rest of them was fine.

Could I love them despite their deformity? YES, and I did. And you can too. Well, not my person, but the people you write off.

When you come to those people with compassion your world becomes bigger. When you come with love there could even be room to discuss the gangrene limb as an act of contribution. Maybe you can help them heal that limb… maybe not. But by writing them off you lose and they lose, and nothing good comes of it.

WHOSE SHOES?
You should not judge a person until you’ve walked in their shoes.

A woman got shitty with me on the subway the other day when I accidentally hit her with my bag. It was an unconscious act. I didn’t even realize I did it, but she was offended as if I had done it intentionally. In her version of the story, I’d swung out and hit her and she was sticking to it.

That was her story and there was nothing I could say to sway her because that is how she sees it from her shoes. She filtered the information through what she knew, her truth and that limited the story and fueled her fury.

Likewise, I made up a story that one or two of my Twitter friends don’t like me. Have they said they don’t like me? No. But I can “feel” it. Have you ever have that experience with someone where you know… you just know…? Well, I know. So I’ve decided they don’t like me. That’s my story. From my shoes, that’s how I see it even though I don’t have the why they don’t like me part of the story. I don’t need that part. I have my instincts and it’s my story… my shoes.

I limit the story to what I know and that costs me. It’s distracting because like most humans beings I want to be liked. When I’m not, even by a fairly insignificant person, it’s distracting. The negativity creates bad energy and it wastes my time.

The interesting fact is my true “subway bag assault story” is very different from the subway lady’s true ”subway bag assault story”.

And I’ve found out that at least one of the people who I decided doesn’t like me actually does [I will win back the rest!!! -- just kidding].

It comes down to shoes. We have to be very conscious of the fact that we only walk in our own shoes. We can’t walk in other people’s shoes or really have any idea what it’s like to walk in their shoes. But we do have a choice.

Before we write people off, we can raise our “shoe awareness”.

We can try to imagine what it’s like to walk in their shoes and stretch our capacity to see their truth.

THANKS EMILY!
Emily the cat had value even though she hated me. You should have seen her when we threw her in a pillowcase to bring her to my house. NOT A HAPPY KITTY. Hah!

But I got her to my house and she was valuable. Everyday she’d leave dead mice for me on the living room floor.

And she peed in the toilet! One day I was alone with her in the house. I heard this faint sound of water running. I inched towards the bathroom and found Emily squatting on the side of the bowl taking a leak! She was mean, but she was clever and she was a killer.

I got my value out of her and never had to clean her litter pan to boot!

EXERCISE YOUR COMPASSION
Everyone has value.

You can train your focus to look for the weaknesses in others and decide that they suck and not want to have anything to do with them. This is easy and perfectly normal.

Or you can focus on what’s strong about them versus what’s wrong about them.

Exercising compassion and empathy in business gives you the ability to grow a network  of people that can be of value to you and to whom you can be of value… despite their weaknesses or your own.

Exercising compassion makes your world a better place, yours, theirs, mine a better place.

There is no limit to our ability to be compassionate, but it must be exercised like a muscle. I encourage you to exercise compassion with others so you learn to be more compassionate with yourself. It is a lot less stressful and more productive than writing people off. You get to keep the people and their value in your network. It can come in very handy in your business.

My mom always says: “There’s what you know. There’s what you don’t know and there’s what you don’t know you don’t know…”

The next time you are ready to write someone off, curse, then breathe, take a moment and follow these steps:

  • Consider what is really going on: Are you seeing your own reflection? Are you judging the part as a whole? Are you imagining what it’s like to wear their shoes?
  • Consider their potential value and your value to them.
  • Consider what you want and whether having them in your network moves you closer to having that or not.
  • Consider the cost of that negative energy. Will it zap your own energy and time? Is it worth it?

Don’t let what you think you know get in the way of what you need to get done to perpetuate positive energy and grow your business.

“Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing

Hi and welcome to HEY! Feed Yourself’s debut blog post!

I spoke at Techmunch in 2011 and created “Love The One You’re With” –  Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing handout. I’ve turned that information into a video series you can use to slap your marketing strategy into shape.

Whether you hate or love marketing — some people do — this series is an eye opener. You”ll learn or refresh what you need to know to successfully market your business. The series includes an introduction video and seven videos, each with a tip.
Each video includes:

  • Me, singing the song title for you to keep in mind as you develop your marketing strategy.
  • An easy-to-follow explanation of each tip.
  • An actionable step to help you kick up your marketing strategy.

Marketing ARGH!
A business is like a three legged stool with sales, marketing and fulfillment each as a leg. If one of the legs is BROKEN, the chair falls down.

Is your chair standing up strong? Tipping slightly on one side? Downright broken? This series will help you strengthen the marketing leg.

I meet people every day who tell me, “I hate marketing!”, “I don’t like marketing”, “I’m no good at marketing”. I see food businesses fail left and right (especially in NYC), because they did not begin with and/or implement a solid marketing plan.

I remember working for a guy, let’s call him Joe, who spent a fortune opening a high end restaurant in New York City with a hot up-and-coming chef. The chef served oysters topped with a foam made from oyster liquid and egg whites — I thought it was, “Gross”, but this was back in the 80′s — so know we know he was a visionary.

No expense was spared on this place, from the Villeroy and Boch china to this incredibly beautiful wood veneered bar.

And after the initial burst of buzz and excitement which was really more of a fizzle, no one came…NO ONE.

I can still see Joe wandering around the joint, muttering to himself, twisting his mustache and staring at the empty tables.  I remember thinking back then, “Did he think that customers would just fall from the skies?” I think it lasted four months.

NOT FIELD OF DREAMS
Some people have this crazy idea, “If I make it, they will come.” We can’t really blame Hollywood for this misconception since businesses have been dying from “lack of marketing” long before 1989. If you create something that you want people to buy you or you do something that you want people to give you money for, you have to tell them. That’s marketing.

Please put any questions or comments you have for me in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you.

Sign up for my mailing list so I can stay in touch with you!

Chow for now,

Jackie

Jackie Gordon
Singing Chef | Business Coach

Check out the whole series:

“Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing

Please leave your comments or questions below.

Tip 1: Still Haven’t Found: Get Clear About What You Want

Before you can even think about marketing, you have to clear about what you want.

Learn the most dangerous question on earth… as taught to me by my mentor and friend, Bryan Franklin aka The Million Dollar Coach — I know that sounds hokey, but he really knows his stuff.


Check out the whole series:

“Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing

Please leave your comments or questions below.

XXOOJAX

Tip 2: Chain Of Fools: Understanding Value

What you’re making is VALUABLE to your customers, but are you getting your value back?

From my series “Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing from my blog: HEY! Feed Yourself: Sharpen Your Business Skill Knives


Check out the whole series:

“Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing

Please leave your comments or questions below.

XXOOJAX

Tip 3: Everybody: Know Your Audience

Mass appeal sounds great!, until you realize the pitfalls and expenses that it takes. Specificity helps you tailor your message and define your strategy.

From my series “Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing from my blog: HEY! Feed Yourself: Sharpen Your Business Skill Knives


Check out the whole series:

“Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing

Please leave your comments or questions below.

XXOOJAX

Tip 4: I’ve Got To Be Me: Be Yourself

Reinventing yourself is impossible, overrated and a whole lot of extra work. Besides, you are perfect.

From my series “Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing from my blog: HEY! Feed Yourself: Sharpen Your Business Skill Knives


Check out the whole series:

“Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing

Please leave your comments or questions below.

XXOOJAX

Tip 5: Love The One Your With: Use Your Network

You are already connected to the people you need to grow your business.

From my series “Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing


Check out the whole series:

“Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing

Please leave your comments or questions below.

XXOOJAX

Tip 6: Who Are You? Represent Yourself

First impressions really do matter.

From my series “Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing.

Check out the whole series:

“Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing

Please leave your comments or questions below.

XXOOJAX

Tip 7: Put A Little Love In Your Heart: Build Your Community

How often do you find an investment that costs nothing and is guaranteed to pay off?

From my series “Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing.

Check out the whole series:

“Love The One You’re With” – Seven Tips Song Titles Can Teach You About Marketing

Please leave your comments or questions below.

XXOOJAX