Make More Sales with These Easy Market Research Strategies with Margo Carroll (Transcript)

While Margo originally hired my company to help her advertise her business, over the years the tables have turned, and I’ve become the client. Margo has helped us conduct thorough market research, write sales campaigns, launch webinars, and strategize our funnels.

This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 51. Listen to the episode here.

Margo Carroll:

I think that market research is underrated by a lot of business owners because it doesn’t feel when you’re in the thick of it like it’s necessarily tied directly to revenue and thus to profits. But the reality is, the longer you’re in the business and the larger your business grows and the more campaigns that you have running, even if you’re trying to simplify the sales side of your business, you’re missing something if you’re not staying in touch with the needs of your customer, and not just as it relates to your product.

Gillian Perkins:

We became entrepreneurs because more than anything, we want freedom. We want to be in control of our own schedule, income, and life. But unfortunately, that isn’t always the reality of being a business owner. I’m Gillian Perkins and I’m on a mission to take back entrepreneurship for what it’s supposed to be. In every episode I’ll share with you how to get the most out of every hour you work so that you can work less and earn more. Let’s get to it.

Gillian Perkins:

Hey there everyone and welcome back to another episode of Work Less, Earn More. Today I’m joined by guest expert Margo Carroll who is a marketing strategist and a copywriter. And in this episode she’s going to share with us how we can do market research in our businesses and maximize our profits while at the same time not taking up too much of our time. Because I’m sure that you know how valuable market research can be but you might not be doing as much of it or any of it as you feel like maybe you should because it can be so time consuming. So I’m really excited to dive into this topic with Margo today and get her expertise on it because Margo is very brilliant at doing market research. She’s done market research in my own business for me as a client. And what she has done for us has really helped us to better strategically plan our content for our sales funnels and to really maximize the sales that we get out of those marketing efforts.

Gillian Perkins:

So with that being said, I’m excited to introduce you to Margo Carroll. Hey there Margo and welcome to the show.

Margo Carroll:

Hi everyone. I’m glad to be here. Thanks for having me Gillian.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. Thank you so much for taking the time. I’m excited to spend a little bit of time geeking out with you about market research because I do think that this is something that you are so, so talented at. Let me give the audience just a quick little bit of context about our history together. You first hired me way, way back several years ago now when I was running a marketing agency and you hired me to do Facebook ads for you. But the tables quickly turned when I realized what a brilliant copywriter you were and later went on to work with you as the client and have just been continually so impressed with the work that you’ve done. And particularly … This has kind of just been like a journey of discovery for me I think. First you were my client and then I was like, “Oh wow, Margo is a great copywriter.” And I hired you to do copywriting. And then you did all this amazing market research that I discovered was even more so your zone of genius and I was the very, very most impressed with that aspect. Because that was something that I really didn’t know much about at all but I’ve just seen such a huge effect from the work that you’ve helped us do in that area of the business.


Market Research

Margo Carroll:

Yeah. I think that market research is underrated by a lot of business owners because it doesn’t feel when you’re in the thick of it like it’s necessarily tied directly to revenue and thus to profits. But the reality is, the longer you’re in business and the larger your business grows and the more campaigns that you have running, even if you’re trying to simplify the sales side of your business, you’re missing something if you’re not staying in touch with the needs of your customer, and not just as it relates to your product.

Margo Carroll:

I think that’s the big thing that I see missing when I talk to a new client and I find out, are you in communication with your customers? Are you serving them regularly? But not about your product and not about their experience in your product. And they’ll usually say yeah, yeah, yeah. And they’re nodding along and then when I say not about the product, they kind of like stop and they’re like, “Well, I mean, yes kind of but that’s kind of.” But that’s where the conversation opens up where I get to talk about opportunities to stay in communication with your customer base about what they really need from you and not just in terms of what products they need but also the journey that they’re on. The journey that they were on before they became a customer, the journey that they’re still on if they’re just a member of your community and not yet a customer, and how it led them to you. Because that’s really what we’re driving at with really good customer research is, what was happening before they came to your doorstep? Because that’s going to allow us to communicate to them in a way that has empathy for the journey that they’ve been on before they came to you and doesn’t just assume that they’re ready for a solution. We need to help get them there by understanding the journey they were on before.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. So you started by saying that you feel like market research is often underrated and I’ll definitely say that it was underrated in my mind as an entrepreneur and I think that there was two places where that stemmed from. One was the fact that when I first was starting my business, I heard a lot of people say, “You need to talk to your audience, you need to be asking your audience questions so that you are connected with them, you know what they want, that sort of thing.” But I didn’t have an audience at first. And so I tried to follow that advice and I just felt really frustrated. Like who am I talking to? I’m not getting any feedback back. And so I kind of shelved that. And by shelved I mean, pushed it off the table forever. And then the other thing was that I tend to be someone who really wants to get to those things that are going to have the biggest impact the fastest and in my mind as a new entrepreneur, I thought okay, that means I need to focus on building sales funnels and creating products and just selling immediately.

Gillian Perkins:

And market research seemed like that homework you do for a class before you actually get to the real work after the class. And so I just felt like skipping over it. It seemed kind of like busywork almost and an unnecessary part of the process. And so that’s why I wasn’t doing really any market research until you showed me the power of it. So could you share a few of the main benefits or the main ways that market research can be used to work on more effectively making sales and maximizing our profits?

Margo Carroll:

Absolutely. In the copywriting and advertising world we talk about any business running off of three parts. You essentially have your audience, you have your offer, and then you have your copy when you’re running a campaign. You have to have an audience that is there for you to sell something to. And a lot of business owners are heavily focused on this. Like you were talking about. You want to be putting out good content that gets people in the door to find out more about what you can do for them. And then there’s creating an offer which is developing a quality product. I would typically advocate for pre selling that product. That’s a whole different podcast episode for another day but developing a product and product development. A lot of people think about their business in terms of those two things and then the copy is something they feel like is just going to naturally flow from there. But really copywriting and preparing things like a landing page or a sales page or an email sequence is really 20% assembling words on a page and 80% research. So in order to get that third aspect of the business really running on all cylinders, understanding your customer at a level of depth that you cannot capture when you’re just simply focused on creating the product and generating the leads, that’s where customer research comes into play.

Margo Carroll:

And there are a lot of different ways to pull this in from efforts that you are already doing as a business owner before you go and actually do a full on customer research campaign and do a survey and collate that data and then you decide what you’re going to do with it. So if you’re using things like … I’m getting tactical here but that’s kind of just where my mind goes.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, that’s good.

Margo Carroll:

If you’re using things like a free Facebook group as a place to nurture and engage with your audience and you have some questions people have to answer before they can join your Facebook group, if you are actually tracking the data when you ask those questions and you are asking questions related to the journey that they’re on, you can consider that market research. So the key things that you’re trying to find out is what brought you to find help like this? What was going on in your life or in your business before you went looking for a solution like my coaching or my products? And what do you think you would be using instead if you weren’t working with me or if you weren’t watching my YouTube videos?

Margo Carroll:

Now, that third questions is something that we usually do in an actual survey. That’s not something you’d ask before someone joins your Facebook group. But you can be gathering information from a place like that that feels informal. It doesn’t feel like they’re having to go fill out a detailed survey. But you can be gathering all of that information and having a team member or doing it yourself if you’re in the early stages, pulling that into a spreadsheet for you. And that is a first step to dip your toes in the water of more formal market research. The ultimate goal of market research is that you end up with this bank of copy, this bank of verbiage that comes directly from your customers or from your audience base that you can then use to write the copy for various campaigns. So like Gillian knows this firsthand. When I’m doing this for a one on one client, we’ll take things that the customer says in a survey or in their Facebook group or in an Instagram comment on their post because we pull it from various sources, and we’ll actually use that verbiage on the landing page headline.


Gathering Your Research

Margo Carroll:

Sometimes when we’re gathering customer research we’re also going to be able to ask that customer if we can use something they said as a testimonial. But that’s not the primary purpose of it. So getting tactical, there’s places like your Facebook group when they join your Facebook group, or when you see a really insightful conversation happening in the comments on your YouTube channel or a conversation happening in the comments on an Instagram post. Those are places where you can get started with gathering that market research and pulling it into a clearing house essentially of copy. I call it a sales guidebook. I have one client of mine that calls it her sizzle file.

Gillian Perkins:

I’ve heard that before. I don’t think you made that up. I think I read it in a book at some point actually. I have no idea when.

Margo Carroll:

So that’s her sizzle file and she gathers … We try to keep it organized so we date it when we do a formal survey and research campaign. But then she has an ongoing one that she’s constantly adding to. And when she’s kind of doing content creation she uses it too. It’s not just for writing landing pages and email sequence copy. She also when she’s kind of stuck and like, “Okay, what content do I want to create for this month?”, she can go into the sizzle file or sales guidebook if you use my language, and she can say, “Okay, I want to create a piece of content that’s specifically around objections to change.” Feeling like it’s not going to be worth it to work with me or to buy a product or to do anything to try to solve this problem that her product solves. And then she can go to the sizzle file, pull some verbiage and she can make content. Whether it’s recording a YouTube video or an IGTV video, writing a blog post, writing an Instagram post all around that verbiage that she gets from the customer research.

Gillian Perkins:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I really like the idea of having it all in one place and organized because I think that anyone who their audience is starting to grow … And I know this is definitely the case for me. I get all of this feedback from people. Answers to emails, comments on Instagram posts, the actual answers that we get to a formal survey. And it’s all just coming in. And when you see it all not organized, it kind of just ends up sounding like noise. You hear people asking all sorts or random questions. You hear people making all sorts of different objections. And it’s really impossible to mentally collate it or to do anything with it. So could you describe how you recommend … What did you call it? Your marketing guidebook?

Margo Carroll:

I call it a sales guidebook because that reminds clients what to use it for.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah okay. So in your sales guidebook or in your client’s sizzle file, how is this data actually organized? Is it all on one spreadsheet with different tabs and columns and things like that or it is a file on a computer or in Google Drive or something with sub files in it? How is it structured?

How to Organize your Research

Margo Carroll:

Typically we structure this when a client is first start out with their market research. I’ll go into the more advanced in just a moment. But when a client’s first starting out with their market research whether I am running a campaign for them and doing the customer research for them or they’re doing it on their own if they’re in my course, we start with one Google document. So hopefully listeners are like, “Oh yay, that’s something I know how to use. We can do that.” And we organize that single Google document into a couple of categories. First we organize it into categories of what the question is that essentially the language that we captured from the customer is answering. Now, it may not be that they answered that exact question when you got this verbiage. But you would have sections for things like, common objections. Then you would have sections for things like, ways they overcame their own objections and ended up buying. And that is something that you would have to gather with an actually formal customer research survey. You would have a section also for information that you captured on the problems or the situations that caused them look for help like the help that you provide.

Margo Carroll:

And then I typically also like to include a section for content. So it’s around things like, once you found out about my business, where did you go next? Essentially like, what was the little workflow of like, they went to your Instagram and then your blog and then your YouTube and then all those things together. Sometimes they don’t remember. But it is really useful to know. Are a lot of people saying that they found out about you on Pinterest? Are a lot of people saying that they found out about you on Instagram? And then also the type of content that’s most helpful to them. I usually give customers four categories to choose from so that it’s more of a multiple choice. Like client success stories, detailed how tos, my journey, that type of thing.

Margo Carroll:

So this Google document is essentially organized by those categories. And then if we’re doing an actual formal customer research survey which for my clients I like them to be doing that at least once a year or definitely right before they’re going to launch a campaign if they haven’t done one in the last year. Then I like to when we get the feedback, put in some percentages there. So is this being mentioned … If there’s a certain comment that’s being mentioned a lot, we don’t need to put 30 comments beneath it if the language is very similar. Instead, you can just put a percentage next to the verbiage saying 45% of our customer base mentioned this issue. And then beneath that quote then you could put some sub points that are different words that came up a lot but they’re around that same theme. So we’re trying to keep it organized into categories, then within those categories we have themes, then within those themes we have actually quotations. Sometimes the whole quote isn’t useful and you just want one word out of it. But you want to keep it raw. It’s important that you keep it as raw material. With the categories, those are going to be written in your business’ words. But with the themes and then with the actual verbiage beneath that, that’s going to be in your customer’s words.

Margo Carroll:

I recommend don’t fix their grammar. It might kill some of the grammarians that are listening right now. But don’t edit things. You want to keep it as raw as possible. And if you’re going to use it in your copy you’re going to be adjusting it anyways to make it make sense for that spot in a landing page or that spot in an email sequence anyway. So doing it that way allows you to identity the themes. And then usually once were done with creating those sections and filling those in, then at the top I also like to put a one reader. And a one reader is essentially who you’re speaking to. So it also for you Gillian, would be your one viewer. And one, it’s not literal. We know as our businesses grow we’re speaking to so many different demographics. But it’s based on the research. The majority of people that you’re speaking to with your marketing campaigns, these are the things that apply to them. It’s not necessarily your traditional … I do a client avatar that you might have heard of. It’s more of the things that motivate them. So they’re most motivated by feeling a sense of peace, having a plug and play solution or most motivated by doing it themselves, finding the way.

Margo Carroll:

So the person that is most likely to work with you, what are the things that they’re most motivated by? Because those are the things that you are going to need to convey to them in the copy. So that’s all in one document. And then as the business grows, essentially those separate categories that you have in that one document would turn into individual documents. We find that documents versus spreadsheets are more useful for this because some of these are long quotes. They’re really hard to plug into a spreadsheet and make them readable.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. Okay. So I have some questions about this first document that we could have with everything on it. One question is about that one reader. So you talked about having it be more about what motivates them than what we might see with a traditional customer avatar that’s focused on demographics. Is it only about what motivates them or are you also going to include some details there about like the primary objective that they’re looking for or their primary pain points or things like that?

Margo Carroll:

Yes. So there are going to be some things around their primary pain points. So for example for a client of mine who is an accountant and financial coach, there would be thing in there around this one reader is typically a 20 something to 50 something female business owner who is frustrated with their lack of understanding of their books but isn’t yet ready to hire a full-time accountant to manage it for them. Their pain points include things like feeling disorganized, feeling embarrassed for anyone to see their books, not knowing how much to pay themselves. And the things that they desire and then we would go in and talk about the things that they desire. But even more important than that because those are fairly easy to gather are the motivating factors and that’s what you get from the customer research. So are they really motivated by wanting to have their books done or are they motivated by wanting to have less time each week dedicated to trying to dig through QuickBooks and figure it out so that they can put that time into other things in their business?

Margo Carroll:

So digging deeper to find what the motivating factors are and in that case it would have been, feelings of peace, feelings of being in control of their business and not having their finances control them, just to give an example.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. And I remember that one time when you were working on a marketing campaign for me and you’d done the initial market research, you identified three different types of customers who were buying the particular product that we were working on this research for. And then we picked one of those as the one reader. Even though there was three different types of people who were buying the product.

Margo Carroll:

Yes. Absolutely.

Gillian Perkins:

And I find that really helpful.

Margo Carroll:

Yeah. It’s important to understand, there’s not ever going to be this one individual person that buys your product unless you create a certain type of widget that only fits on a certain type of machine and then people with that machine are your customer.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah.

Margo Carroll:

But in the case of service based businesses or information commerce, digital information products, there does tend to be a little bit wider spread. So understanding that it’s broader than just one reader but the purpose of having the one reader in there is that that’s what you can use for editing sweeps. So if you’re writing your own copy you can use this. But what I do when I’m doing this with a client is the one reader is then something that after I write copy, my editor goes back through and they’re reading as that person. So they’re not just looking for grammar and clarity issues, they’re assuming the mindset of that reader and then their editing my copy that I’m writing for the client to say, “Okay, if I was that person, this isn’t really connecting. I think we need to adjust based on what we learned in the market research. Maybe use this word here instead.” But if you’re writing your own copy and you’ve compiled your own research, having that one reader, you can do the same thing. You write your copy and then you go back through. You of course edit for grammar and clarity and brevity and all that but then you can also edit as the one reader.

Gillian Perkins:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So you’re cutting out anything that wouldn’t speak to that reader or wouldn’t really serve the main purpose or fit with your primary marketing message, and if anything that’s extra basically?

Margo Carroll:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And you really have to swallow your pride when you do the … We call it sweeps. Editing sweeps. So when you do the one reader sweep you really have to swallow your pride because you’ll realize that a lot of the copy serves you a little bit more than it serves the one reader. It’s like some part of your product that you’re super proud of and then you read back through as the one reader or your editor does it for you and they are like, “I don’t think this piece of the product is what that person would care to highlight and I think that this paragraph or two is going to lose them, where really what they are going to want to get to is way down here.”

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. That makes sense. And it sounds hard but also important.


Killing Your Darlings

Margo Carroll:

Yes. In the writing world we call it killing your darlings. Sometimes you’re going to have to kill your darlings and that’s just part of the process of getting to … You’re essentially like a sculpture. You’re chiseling away until you get to the least amount to convey the message you’re trying to share with your audience.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I did a writing workshop recently and the person who was teaching it … It was Donald Miller who’s the author of Building a StoryBrand. And it was an interesting writing workshop because it wasn’t exclusively focused on writing copy. It was a general writing workshop so he was talking about writing fiction, he was talking about writing copy, and he was talking about general principles. And that kind of sounds like not that helpful, but he was talking about principles that really applied to both of them and how in a lot of ways it’s exactly the same thing that you do for both of them. And so he had the main point that you need to have a main point. You need to have your copy be about something, your story be about something. And the something being a theme, a thesis, an underlying idea. And then you might have these parts of it that you really like, “your darlings”, that you love how you wrote them or you love the story that you share or you love that feature about your product. But if they’re not serving that main point, that main thesis, that main driving motivational factor, then you have to get rid of them and save them for a different project because they’re just going to distract your reader and they’re actually going to water down the message that you’re trying to convey.

Margo Carroll:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. I keep a … For my clients. So when I do a project I’ll usually keep a separate Google document from all the other deliverables that is pieces that we didn’t get to use. And so it’s kind of like this added fun bonus that they get of copy that we were going to use that got edited out that I know they could use later on for a Facebook ad or for a short form landing page. Something that’s great for their brand but it wasn’t necessarily right for this campaign. So I definitely recommend to your listeners that they don’t edit, kill their darlings, and then put them in the trash bin of their computer, but that they keep them somewhere else to use later.

Gillian Perkins:

And it also I think makes it so much easier to edit your copy in that way because it kind of reminds me of when you’re trying to curate your closet, you’re like, “I have to many clothes. I need to be more minimalist here or something.” And so you think I should declutter, I should Marie Condo my life. That can be really, really tough. Because you’re like, “Oh but I like this dress, I like this shirt.” But if you have an alternate purpose … Like if you’re just trying to create a capsule wardrobe for the season, it’s so much easier to just pack things away and you have no qualms about doing that. It’s just about getting rid of things forever that are things that you really like that are really nice. And so I like the idea of doing this with our copy where we can feel more comfortable and free to clean up our copy and make it more focused by being able to save those things for later use.

Margo Carroll:

Yeah. You’re just putting them in that Rubbermaid bin with winter coats and [crosstalk 00:25:21].

Gillian Perkins:

And your wedding dress, right?

Margo Carroll:

Yeah.

Gillian Perkins:

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Gillian Perkins:

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Gillian Perkins:

Okay, the other question that I had about this was, you talked about having just one Google document for all of it at the beginning and I’m wondering what if you sell multiple products? Because I know that that is the case for a lot of especially online business … I mean, a lot of businesses period really. And sometimes I think a business sells multiple products that really all generally appeal to the same target customer. But then other times each product has its own target customer and its own marketing message that goes along with it. So would you still just have one Google doc or would you have one Google doc per product?

Margo Carroll:

That’s a great question. Essentially the process you’d follow is the same as the process for when your business grows in general. Like let’s say you have one market base for all of your products and it makes sense for you to keep it all in one Google document. Then as your business grows and the document grows, you separate it out so each of those categories is a Google document. So you have a Google document that’s all market research around objections, a Google document that’s all market research around their pain points and their journey before they came and found you. So we’d follow that same process if we have multiple products that speak to different audiences. So we would start out with it being in one Google document and then underneath each category when we get into the themes that came out in the market research we would make a separate line for the themes that came out more so from the target audience for let’s say I have product A, product B and product C. So underneath that category then we’d have product A customer themes and then we would share the quotes underneath of that. And then product B customer themes, share the quote underneath of that.

Margo Carroll:

And I also like to separately have general audience themes so that we see the data across the people that have spent money with us and then just the rest of our audience. So a smaller business that’s getting started with market research, don’t over complicate it and do it like that. And then once it grows then you would actually want to have separate Google documents for each of your products. And what I would probably do is I would have a Google document in that case for product A, product B, product C and for the general audience. Because you do need to understand that in this day and age a lot of us, a part of our business is content creation. And some of that content is consumed by people that will put forward our message that are going to share it, that are going to help get it out there and get it in the hands of more people, but they may not buy from us. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a value. And so we need to understand, is there something that we need to communicate to that particular audience that’s slightly different than the people that are buying our products? So that’s not something that we want to miss altogether with our content because they’re also helping our brand. They just have a different role to play.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. One of the biggest challenges that I feel like I run into with utilizing market research is that it feels really straightforward when I’m doing market research for a specific product and then I’m writing the marketing messages, the emails, the sales pages, et cetera for that specific product, but then there’s just this fact that my business creates content that’s consumed by all of our customers that are possibly interested in all of the products. So it’s really difficult for me to figure out who that one customer is, that one reader is that I’m speaking to with that general content that is the top of all of the funnels and how to organize that data and make strategic content decisions. Do you have any advice there?

Margo Carroll:

I think for you, I talked about Google documents and that being a good way to organize it. But I think for someone like you that’s creating a lot of content at a high volume and a high quality, you’re investing money and time into team members to help support you to create that content, then having some of this information cross referenced in a spreadsheet might helpful and here’s why. Because then you can have that spreadsheet identify the themes that are performing well in terms of what’s happening with your YouTube channel or for someone listening, for their podcast. And then it can have reference points to what was shared in the market research as being a theme that’s important to people. Is it overlapping? You can’t really do that with a Google document. You can’t track the numbers for a YouTube channels and then manually go in and look at the Google document and say okay, does this add up to these two things? But I know for you, you’re always tracking. YouTube has great analytics and some podcasting platforms do as well. So you’re able to track like, what is the information that I’m putting out there that’s getting the most traction?

Is your Market Research Invalid?

Margo Carroll:

If it doesn’t line up with your market research it doesn’t mean that your market research is invalid. It just may mean that the people that are answering questions on a market research survey are a different subset of your audience than those that are most frequently going and consuming 75% of an entire YouTube video rather than just the first short bit of it. I would also say to those listening that are maybe in an earlier stage of their business where they don’t yet have a weekly platform of some sort, the same thing applies to Instagram and Facebook. If you’re just putting out more micro content perhaps you would consider it more perishable shelf life. Instagram has incredible insights. As long as you’re using a business or creator account you can see what is performing well and what is getting traction. The key is … And this is one thing that I think everyone as you grow up and you’re business grows up you have to recognize, the system is only as good as its user and even though those insights and those analytics are available to you if you’re not tracking them and making note of them, whether it’s a spreadsheet or Asana, wherever you’re keeping track of that, it’s all just living between your ears and it tends to feel chaotic and disorganized. And like you said, it just becomes noise.

Margo Carroll:

Like you spend one Friday afternoon going through your insights on Instagram and you’re like, “Okay, this is the kind of content that my audience wants from me. I’m on it. I’m going to do that. No problem.” And then by Monday you’re like, “Oh man, I should have really written all that down.” So it’s really important to have a system for keeping track of that. The Google document is very user friendly to start with. But for someone like you, once you get to a high volume, then also having just the themes … You don’t need to actual quotes but just the themes in a spreadsheet so that your team can be cross referencing is the popularity of certain keywords and titles on YouTube matching up with what we’re seeing in the market research as well?

Gillian Perkins:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So when you say cross referencing, what do you physically mean? Are you talking about a link to the Google doc with the actual words on it or something else?

Margo Carroll:

So I would essentially have different tabs in the same Google document. So it kind of depends. Where do you keep track right now Gillian? Do you use a spreadsheet or Asana-

Gillian Perkins:

Right now it’s been sheets in Google and the sheets have multiple tabs.

Margo Carroll:

So what you could do is add a tab to your Google sheet that has your market research themes that people have told you this is the content that we need or this is the thing that I struggle with the most. And then you can compare. You can set up Google sheets to have one tab in one part of the sheet connect with another tab on another part of the sheet. And I’d use this same language as much as possible and then see what percentages people are giving you. So in your market research tab you’d say, 65% of people said that this was a theme for them. Productivity. I really need help around productivity or time management. And then in your YouTube channel planning you’ve got, okay, productivity and time management. This is how they’re performing on the channel. So then you’re literally able to just look and one and say okay, this is 75% people say they need this, but then when we look at our YouTube analytics it’s 25% in terms of how it’s performing. So you can literally-

Gillian Perkins:

And so then what would you do with that information if you saw that difference there?



Marketing Campaign

Margo Carroll:

So if you see a difference there it wouldn’t necessarily mean that you need to change your marketing campaign, but it may mean that you need to adjust your top of funnel like you were saying Gillian. Because for you the content that you create is top of funnel so you may need to shift from saying okay, the market research dictates everything that we create to the market research theme is going to dictate more of what we’re doing once they’re getting emails from us, because those market research surveys are going to be mostly your email subscribers and people that are connected with you in that way. And then the YouTube themes that are performing well should still inform what you’re doing at the to of the funnel. So essentially it just relates to the stages of the funnel that they’re in.

Gillian Perkins:

I see. Okay. That makes sense. And it leads me into my next phase of questions that I want to focus on which is, all of this, it’s obviously so … It can have so much power in our business because it can really help us make strategic decisions about content. It can help us make strategic decisions about what products we sell and obviously the marketing messages. And then it can create these copy banks that we can use to make writing our copy so much easier. But it also can be incredibly complex and time consuming. And since this podcast is all about working less and earning more, I really want to know what your best and biggest secrets are for getting the biggest results we can with this while at the same time not taking enormous amounts of our time. So using that 80/20 principle, what are the things that we could focus on that are going to give us the biggest wins?

Margo Carroll:

The way that I recommend doing this is sending out a survey to your email list. So this is assuming that the listener that we’re talking to right now has an audience at this point in time. It’d be slightly different if you don’t yet have an audience or any customer base. And you’re going to send them an email that invites them to take a survey and you always want to incentivize this in some form or fashion. It can be whether it’s a monetary value gift like if you take my survey then you’ll be entered to win this gift or prize or gift card of X amount of value. Or it’s a free coaching session with you depending on the type of business that person has and what their bandwidth is for that type of thing. And then you’re going to automate that. So you’re going to send it out via an email service provider. You’re not individually sending these emails typically. Unless you have a rockstar case study that you want to do but that’s a little bit different. That’s more of an individual outreach type thing.

Margo Carroll:

So when it’s a general audience survey, automate the process as much as you possibly can. So you’re going to have a survey that’s set up via Google Forms or Typeform. You’re going to schedule the email that goes out via your email service provider. You’re going to schedule a reminder email, at least one, that goes out via your email service provider as well. And I recommend giving about a one week window of time to complete it. What we’re finding is that if we give longer than that then people forget and they don’t get it done. And if we give just like a day or two then sometimes people miss the email. So five to seven days is kind of the sweet spot. And that also allows you and your team to kind of plan this tightly. Like it’s not like a two month research campaign. It’s like okay, this is the week that we’re going to write the survey and we’re going to send it out. This is the week that we’re going to collect the data. The following week we’re going to organize it and plug it into the sales guidebook. And then after that it’s really important even if you’re a solo entrepreneur, you need to have a meeting to go over the results. I think Gillian, you’d probably agree with this. That like seeing it all on a document isn’t the same as actually reviewing it.

Margo Carroll:

It’s really helpful if you do have a team to review it with your team or if you’re just running the show by yourself, to have a scheduled time when you’re going to review and interpret the findings. So you essentially have your sales guidebook. And then you want to make some learning points from there. But I really encourage people to schedule it tight and not to overthink it and just to implement it. And like I said, I would say for most businesses, doing this once per year or if you have a big launch coming up, doing it for the customer base of that particular product about a month before your launch so that it can inform the copy that you’re writing for that launch. But this isn’t something that you need to be doing every month in your business. Even just doing it once a year can make a big difference.

Gillian Perkins:

So it sounds like this could be a really good way to kind of jump start the process of creating that sales guidebook. Like do your first survey of your audience and then take that data that you get from the actual Google survey or from the Typeform and turn that into the first version of your sales guidebook and then from there you can add to it on an ongoing basis, kind of maybe as you have time even. As you’re getting more feedback from your audience as you’re seeing those emails that they’re responding to and the comments on Instagram and thing like that.

Margo Carroll:

Absolutely.

Gillian Perkins:

Does that sound to you like what you’d recommend?

Margo Carroll:

Yes. And what we do typically is we’ll recommend to a client or a student in our course that they create the sales guidebook, the first one, the first time they do this. And the first time people do it they get real excited. Like, “Wow, that was really productive and I got some great insights.” And then they create a copy of it. And then that’s kind of the working document and then the first one they put a date stamp on it. Because what you’ll find as your business goes on is that you can go back and reference and it’ll look slightly different as your audience is changing. But we want to keep that in the master document. So we have the master document that’s a constant work in progress, but if we do a full market research survey we like to keep that in both places. Both in the master document that you’re always adding to and also in a separate one that has an actual date stamp on it so that we can reference that later if we want to.

Gillian Perkins:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And obviously that’s something that you can do in a second. Just making a copy of the document and then you’ll have that clean copy so you don’t have to worry about essentially scribbling on the copy of it, right?

Margo Carroll:

Absolutely. Yes. And really it’s like a five to six question survey. You’re not going to be asking someone to spend an hour filling out a survey for you. And then the other recommendation that I would have is that you dedicate a set period of time to going through the results and copying and pasting them in. You’re not interpreting them at all whatsoever when you’re just copying and pasting them from the spreadsheet where they were received. So Typeform or Google Forms. You’re not interpreting the data at that point in time. It’s literally just data entry. So even if you have a team member that can do this or if you want to find someone on Upwork, data entry is definitely something that someone aside from you as the business owner can do. And essentially organizing them into your themes at that point. And then after it’s all gathered together for you, then the interpretation work, that’s more nuanced and strategic. So that’s something that whether you have someone coming in to do this for you that they can help you with or that you as the business owner and your team members would do.

Gillian Perkins:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. So talk to me about this last part of the process now. So we’ve done a survey, we’ve created the sales guidebook, maybe we’ve added to it some and now we’re getting ready to launch a product or possibly to plan out content on a social media platform or something like that. How do we take that Google document or that spreadsheet that we created and really put it to work and get the biggest results out of that effort we’ve put in in the past.


The Last Step

Margo Carroll:

So the words that you gather from the market research, the actual verbiage on the page … I avoid using the word copy because I want to make sure we’re completely clear here but I know that most of your listeners will know what copy is. But the verbiage that you gather from those survey responses, you can actually take your sales guidebook and when it’s time to actually write a sales page or write a registration page for a three day challenge that you’re doing with your audience, you’re going to be able to capture those quotes and you’re going to be able to rework them into headlines and subheads and crossheads on that page. So you’re going to be able to actually take … Somebody says, “I couldn’t believe how disgusted I was with the process of onboarding my first team member and how much time it took. I thought it would be fun and it turned out it was a huge headache.”

Margo Carroll:

You can take those words and you can use them on your landing page for your three day challenge about how to prepare to onboard your first team member. So you can actually have a headline that says, “Were you expecting it to be so fun to bring on your first team member but it turned out it was a big headache?” Maybe those aren’t the words that you would use. Maybe those aren’t the words that you would first think of because you use the jargon of your kind of sub niche or your industry. But if that is a phrase, if headache came up a lot in the market research, you know that that’s something that would be useful to use. If I expected it to be this, easy, hassle free, fun, simple, easy going, and it turned out to be this. And then insert negative word here. If you hear that a lot in the market research then that could be something that you use in your headline. So essentially you’re just taking the verbiage and you’re just working it into statements. You’re working statements from the verbiage into things like questions and calls to action in your copy.

Gillian Perkins:

So basically what I’m hearing you say is there’s a lot of different ways you can say essentially the same thing but it’ll speak to your target customer, your prospective buyer more if yo use the actual words that they use to describe their problem.

Margo Carroll:

Yes. Absolutely. And it seems small. Like changing one word on a landing page seems small but it actually has incredible amount of impact. Especially on things like landing pages where you can track opt in rates and how those change based on what kind of copy you use. It’s similar to when you change the design of a page significantly, like drastically and then you can kind of compare what the opt in rate is for that same page. It’s a similar thing. It’s just less visible than the design but it is equally as powerful. I’ll say equally so I don’t get any fights with the designers that are listening right now. Not more, equally.

Gillian Perkins:

I always think it’s so funny how I hear designers talk about how your visual branding is the thing that will change your business and convert more of the right customers and attract the right people and then copywriters will say exactly the same thing about the words.

Margo Carroll:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Always.

Gillian Perkins:

I think they’re both important, right?

Margo Carroll:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). They are.

Gillian Perkins:

The message and the-

Margo Carroll:

[crosstalk 00:46:12]. They’re equally important. Yeah.

Gillian Perkins:

We’ll just say it’s equal.

Margo Carroll:

Yeah.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay, well our time is running out so we are going to wrap this up even though I know you have so much more you could share with us Margo and this has been amazing. So thank you so much for your time and for everything you’ve shared with us. Actually before we do finally wrap this up could you just make this as actionable as possible for the listeners by sharing the couple first steps you would recommend someone takes if they have not done any market research in their business so far. If they don’t have a sales guidebook, what are the first couple things they should do?

Margo Carroll:

I would say the first couple of things that you should do are to … This’ll sound like I’m repeating myself but to make a plan for the three to four weeks that you’re going to work on your market research. Just diving in tomorrow isn’t the best idea. Time management will not agree with you if you just jump into it. So make a plan that you’re going to dedicate three weeks to your market research. Week one is … It’s not going to take you your entire week but you have other things going on in your business. So week one is all about writing the survey and actually writing out the emails that you’re going to send out to your list to gather those survey responses. Then week two is about the week that they’re going to be entering those survey responses. Addressing any issues. If somebody can’t get a link or things like that, that’s going to be what you’re working on in week two. Then week three you’re going to be pulling the information over from that survey to your Google document and then after week three then you can have that meeting whether it’s a meeting of the minds on your team or it’s a meeting yourself.

Margo Carroll:

If you have a sales team or if you have people that work on the sales side of your team, those would be the people that you definitely need to meet with. But this is something that may … This may change some of the language that you have in your brand voice guide. This may change bigger picture things in the business aside from just this particular marketing campaign. So try to think longterm and think big in terms of the impact that this could have for you and just take it those four steps at a time. First step is create the survey, prep the emails to send out. Second step is gather the information. Third step is, data entry, pulling the information over into Google document in those categories that I mentioned, and then the final step is to actually interpret the data and make decisions on where you’re going to use the verbiage.

Gillian Perkins:

Yes. And that reminds me as you break this down into four steps that if people want … Listeners, if you want more guidance and more exact step by step of how to execute this, Margo was a guest expert a few months back in the Startup Society and she taught us an action plan that really broke this process of doing market research in your business and this initial round of market research into a really … She just broke it down really, really step by step. And so if you want that handholding there, if you want every step of the process laid out for you, then head to gillianperkins.com/startupsociety to checkout all the other benefits of membership as well and consider joining us. Because Margo did a fantastic job with that action plan and we loved having her as a guest expert. Okay so Margo let’s wrap this up. Where can listeners go to find out more about you and what you’re doing and learn more about market research?

Margo Carroll:

Absolutely. They can find out more about me at www.margocarroll.com. That’s Carroll with two Rs and two Ls. They can also look up the Trailblazer’s Way Podcast which is our new podcast that’s coming out this month at the time that we’re recording this. So you can find it on iTunes, Spotify, all your podcast different players. And then if you’re in Instagram, you can follow along @MargoCarroll.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay awesome. So yeah, everyone who’s listening, especially since you are listening to a podcast right now, so you’re probably in your podcast app, go look up Margo’s new podcast. You said it’s called, the Trailblazer’s-

Margo Carroll:

Way Podcast.

Gillian Perkins:

The Trailblazer’s Way Podcast. Okay. Awesome. Thank you again so much and thanks for taking the time and for everything you’ve shared with us Margo.

Margo Carroll:

Thank you Gillian. Thanks for having me.

Gillian Perkins:

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Work Less, Earn More. Now here’s what I want you to do next. Take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to right now and share it on Instagram stories. And when you do, make sure you tag me @GillianZPerkins so I can see that you’re listening. Sharing on stories is going to help more people find this podcast so that they too can learn how to work less, earn more and take back their lives. And if you really love the show, then head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review to give it a boost. Not only will this help the show out, but it’s also going to give you the chance to win a 12-month membership to Startup Society. Each week I’ll be picking one winner. To enter, all you need to do is post your review on Apple Podcast and be sure to include your Instagram handle so we can send you a DM if you win. Okay, now let’s wrap this up. I’m Gillian Perkins and until next week, stay focused and take action.

    Sean McMullin

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