Cut the Marketing Jargon from Your Surveys
Like other professionals, those of us in marketing and market research sometimes fall too much in love with our specialized and often ridiculous language. It is mostly okay when we communicate with each other. But if we are communicating with customers or consumers, beware. Our words may not be their words. And since our research should focus on understanding them, not us, using professional jargon sends exactly the wrong message about what we are trying to do.
Here is an example of a survey invitation I received from an electric scooter company in Washington. I spent a weekend in the city and made good use of a scooter-sharing service for getting around. This survey invitation is admirably brief, but borderline ridiculous:
We’d love to hear more about how your feel towards Acme as a brand and what do you want to see in your product experience. Share your voice below!
It made me laugh. At first I didn’t notice the typo and the grammatical error in the first sentence. But here is what I noticed right away: While there is nothing complicated about their jargon, it clearly reflects their perspective rather than mine, as a consumer.
First, they want to know how I feel about them as a brand. Marketing people may think and talk about everything (even people) as being a brand. But this is not how consumers think. They probably have a favorite brand of laundry detergent, maybe a favorite brand of beer. They love iPhones and Starbucks, but even then few use the word “brand” when referring to their phone. As for me, I have no feelings toward Acme as a brand, though I have a lot of feelings about how fun and easy it was to zip around Washington on that scooter I rented.
Second they want to know about my product experience. How many consumers do you know who talk about their “product experiences”? They talk about things more immediate and relevant to them, like: I rented a scooter. It was fun. It was fast and convenient. Sometimes I had trouble finding a scooter in popular areas. Some scooters were not charged. As great as it was, there were problems worth telling the company (not the “brand”!) about. That’s what I wanted to share with them.
Third, they wanted me to share my voice. This sounds like business executives talking about their brand’s “share of voice” or market research professionals talking about “voice of the customer” or VOC research. Do consumers, from their perspective, share their voices? No. They share their opinions, thoughts, ideas, or complaints. They give their feedback. The fill out surveys, or rate service quality.
I actually did click through to see the survey. The first question was this: “How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with our company?” They didn’t ask about my scooter rental; they asked about themselves. I guess I should have known from the invitation that these were clearly business people collecting KPIs rather than consumer insights that could help improve their business.