Keep in mind, just because
people inside the company think the “messages” are on target doesn't mean your
Some companies are hesitant to approach customers for “message testing.” If you work with your customers to understand what they need and then deliver it, why would those same customers not want to help explain what you do to other customers?
The idea of testing can be scary. What if you don’t pass? What if you decide to go with a message that you and your team like, but your customers don’t understand? Which is worse? Testing should be done in stages. Begin with an informal discussion with valued customers. You want to understand what they think about your company, your products, your service, your employees, and your executives. You don’t get this kind of insight through an online survey or focus group. Early in the process is the time to gather possible messaging ideas straight from your customers.
The most effective approach is use customer interviews to gather the feedback you need. Typically, interviews of this nature are 30-60 minutes, either face-to-face or on the phone with the latter being more common.
- Here are a few potential open ended message testing questions:
- What do you think is the main idea behind each message?
- Are these messages important to you?
- What do these messages mean to you?
- How do these messages satisfy your needs?
- Why are these messages believable and credible?
- How do these messages differentiation our offering?
The outcome of these interviews will cause you to look at your messages differently. At this point, you want to take the input that is most relevant, integrate the feedback into your message options and start the more formal process of actual testing possible messages.
A combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis is best, but it’s not always possible.
Qualitative research includes focus groups, one-on-one interviews and such. Quantitative research usually involves surveys where the responses are mostly closed ended.
The most important aspect of message testing is to test with a significant enough sample of your target audience.
Regardless of how you do the testing, the results you find can either validate your messages or give you new insights and direction to keep you from making avoidable mistakes.
Information provided by Laura Lowell and, with permission, shared. www.lauralowell.com
Author K. Meador is a mom to two grown sons who are currently pursuing their adult lives outside the home. She enjoys history, aviation, writing, and romance. In addition, she enjoys photography, walking, and visiting with family and friends. For the past several years, she has traveled with her job and has now settled down in Oklahoma City area.
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