Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trash Talking

There are people who should ignore everything I say. For their own good, they shouldn’t even bother to strike up a conversation.

Like the restaurant I went to recently that wanted me to take a survey about my dining experience even though at best I won’t be anything more than a once a year customer. Why should they care what I think?

Similarly, a cruise line should stop trying to build a relationship with me. The idea of being trapped on a ship, taking days to get to where I could have flown to in hours, sounds tortuous to me. No offense to those of you who love this sort of vacation, it’s just not me – now or ever.

And just an hour ago a discount store wanted me to take a survey and in exchange would enter me to win a $5000 gift card. Why are you asking for my opinions? My wife is the one who shops here; I just stopped by to pick up a pair of socks. Even if I was tempted by the incentive and took the survey, how valuable (or misleading) would my answers be?

Hopefully the listeners you survey are the ones that matter, that will help you and your station achieve your goals. Hopefully because paying attention to spurious feedback, no matter how well intentioned, could be the ultimate trash talk.

With everything on our plates, it’s easy to let the chore of database maintenance wait until tomorrow. But garbage in/garbage out is a real problem.

Here are five things to do right now:
  • Make sure your sample matches your target. Study who’s responding to your questionnaires. Are they your target? Are you inviting feedback from people who can’t help you reach your goals? On one of our Albright & O’Malley Client Wide Conference Calls earlier this year, Presslaff Interactive Revenue’s Ruth Presslaff urged stations to regularly check their database metrics including demographics and their opt in/out rate.
  • Drill down to find listeners who have the deepest level of engagement with you and be sure you are including an appropriate number of them in your sample and reward them after the fact. Sharing some top-line results and recognizing those who regularly participate are two ways to keep hearing from those who are important to you. 
  • Because attrition make a panel less representative, continually look for ways to build the panel with targeted persons and eliminate factors which increase opt out or non-participation rates. Be creative. Distribute information about the panel in places where your most regular listeners are likely to visit – from websites to appearances.  
  • Limit the number of times you ask a panelist to take a survey. Over-sampling is one cause of panel erosion.

One man’s trash may be another man’s treasure – but not yours.

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