Every day I speak with customers who are working on setting up quizzes. At the end of each and every conversation I get asked the same question.
“What Should I Be Asking That I Didn’t?”
Since quizzes are new to the marketing world and there’s not a ton of knowledge out there I think people want to know if they’re wasting their time trying to use quizzes if it’s not going to work, they want to be sure the quiz will be a success before investing hours into it.
This post is my response to that question, and every single point in it revolves around one concept. People never ask me if they’re creating the right quiz for their audience, or who their audience is, or who they want to reach with the quiz, or how to make a quiz for that type of person. It’s like we forget that a quiz is going to be taken by other humans and if you want to have success with it there’s not some magic trick you can apply that will work all the time, it comes down to understanding who is on the other side and creating the quiz for them.
What I came up with in response to “What questions should I be asking about quizzes?” is a set of principles that turned out to be guidelines for knowing your audience better. I came up with six principles for understanding your potential customers and that’s what this article is. Most of the principles revolve around quizzes because that’s the world I live in every day, but they are honestly just the ways that you can better know the people who pay for your livelihood by buying the products you sell.
1. Who am I trying to reach?
No one ever asks me this. Yet it is the only thing that matters when you’re creating a quiz, or any other kind of content.
Who is it for? It honestly blows me away that no one thinks about this, it’s as if we forget the internet has people on the other side of it and we’re just submitting content into the ether hoping that it lands somewhere and someone likes it.
“If you try to reach everyone you will reach no one”
That’s the reality of it. If your quiz isn’t made for anyone it is made for no one. My favorite story of this is when the Irish Times made a quiz for people of Irish heritage who are living in London, of whom there are only about 120,000. 80,000 of those Irish people living in London took the quiz, that represents 2/3 of every single Irish person living in London. That’s because the quiz was made for them, not for all Irish people, not for all Londoners, it was just for them.
You know how no one responds to your email blasts? (If you’re a marketer you can feel the cringe from that). No one responds because the email isn’t written for anyone in particular, it’s written for everyone, and we’ve watched email blast statistics slowly fall away into nothingness as people have become tired of ads that mean nothing to them.
I read an inspiring post on this topic by Rand Fishkin who is one of the most well-known and respected marketers. In his post he reflects on 25 years of marketing experience and calls out the marketing world for our focus on optimizing our ads and trying to create more content when in reality what we need to do is take the time to figure out who our audience is in the first place.
If you know who you are talking to everything else becomes easier. Imagine trying to write a letter but you don’t know who it’s to, and in the letter you are trying to convince that person to buy a frisbee from you. What do you say? You have no idea if they are into playing frisbee, you have no idea if they even like sports or going outside, you don’t know if they’re young or old or where the live, you have no idea what their interests are.
What you end up inevitably doing is just listing out the features of the frisbee.
Sound familiar? Probably, because all too often that’s what we end up doing in marketing, we list out the features of our products and services because we have no idea who is going to buy it.
What if instead of listing out the features of your frisbee you first sent a letter asking the person about themselves and what they are interested in and if they even like playing frisbee? Then in the second letter you could pitch the frisbee if they indicated they like going outside and playing frisbee.
That’s what a quiz does, the questions of the quiz are the first letter, asking the person about themselves, and the results of the quiz are the second letter where you pitch the merits of the frisbee to the person and if they said they don’t like frisbees then you don’t pitch it at all.
2. What do they want to know about themselves?
Once you’ve identified who your customers are (and that can be a massive process, which doesn’t end, it’s continuous). So to re-phrase, once you have a solid understanding of who your customers are, then the next question to ask yourself is “what do they want to know about themselves?” because a quiz is the one way you can help people learn about themselves using online content that you really can’t do with any other kind of content.
Self-actualization is one of the biggest reasons people take quizzes, we want to learn more about ourselves, but it’s not just anything we want to learn, we want to solve problems by learning about ourselves.
For example, maybe we keep making the same mistakes at work and we think that if we better understood how we operate in a work environment we might be able to avoid making that same mistake.
So let’s say you’re a marketer and you are continually messing up your reports, numbers are missing or off, it’s getting frustrating and you feel dumb every time it happens. If a quiz called “What Kind of Marketer Are You?” shows up and the description of it says “Learn your work style so you know what your strengths and weaknesses are and can capitalize on your strengths while improving your weaknesses” that’s perfect and the first thing that pops in your mind is probably “I want to fix my weakness of reporting” Now the quiz isn’t just something silly to find out your style, it’s useful because you can identify specific ways to fix your problem of reporting which is causing you pain.
We all want to know why we do things, why we make mistakes, why we do certain tasks super well, and a quiz can help with that. It only works if you know what people in your audience care about though, if you miss the mark it doesn’t matter how good your quiz is.
3. What are they interested in?
So let’s say that one of the questions in your quiz is “Pick a movie for Friday night” and every single answer choice is a movie that your target audience enjoys and they have a hard time picking between movies.
Now compare that to the same question but the answer choices are just pulled from the top 50 movies of all time which the audience may or may not even like.
In the situation where all your answers connect with the quiz taker you’re building up a meaningful dialogue and they’re becoming more confident that you know who they are and are going to begin to trust you. If you really take the time to know what people are interested in they’re going to know that you spent that time and react by being much more willing to listen to you.
If you sell to people who are not like you, which we all do, you must listen in order to know the things that your audience enjoys. It’s like a good friend who’s order you know at every restaurant and you can get their coffee drink without having to ask what they want, the connection you have with that friend is real and if you give them advice they know it’s genuine. You should aspire to have that level of connection with your potential customers and stop trying to just shove products at them.
4. What do they care about?
There is a shirt company called Ministry of Supply, I first heard about it from a friend and then checked out the website. Then they re-targeted me with an ad that had messages about what the shirts had to offer.
-Non-iron (wrinkles remove themselves)
-You can wear it on a 14-hour flight
-It has ventilation
-It wicks away sweat
Those are all things I care about, in fact I’m on a 13-hour flight a week from today and I’ve never worn dress shirts on long flights because I know that by the time I arrive the shirt will be a mess of wrinkles.
It was a Facebook video ad, and if you Google strategies for Facebook video ads you’ll see a bunch of junk about how to write messages and the best colors to use or images to include, but they all miss the point.
All you really need to know is what your potential customers care about, what their fears and goals are, what they care about, what is important to them in your product or service.
Now the beauty of a quiz is that people will tell you exactly what they care about when they answer your questions, you just have to know the right questions to ask in the first place that gives them the opportunity to express their cares and decide what is important to them. For example, if I was Ministry of Supply making a quiz my questions would include.
1. Do you iron your clothes?
2. How often do you travel?
3. Do you move around a lot during the day?
For question 1 there would be an answer choice that would say “No, I don’t own an iron and want all my shirts to be no-hassle” for question 2 you’d have an answer choice that says “Yes I travel pretty often and am often on planes” for question 3 you’d have an answer choice that says “Yes, I’m constantly on the go”
With those 3 questions in your quiz you’d be able to figure out who I am and offer up a follow-up video ad that includes my choices as the text on the video, and you can do the same thing for people who answer the questions differently.
It’s not complicated, but you are having to put the customer first and think about what they want in order to do this.
5. What are their goals?
If you understand someone’s motivation then you can drop a lot of pretenses and just get to the point. The problem is that many times we’re not even aware of our own motivations for doing things and it can take time to uncover what’s really going on and why we’re actually taking the actions we are. There are some great leading questions and methods for finding someone’s goals (even your own).
The why? method. This one is to be used with caution because it easily pisses people off. You basically just keep asking “why?” like a kid would until you get to the bottom of why people do things. I learned this one from Paul Graham who is the first investor in Dropbox and Reddit. I also don’t like this one because it pre-supposes that someone knows why they are doing what they’re doing, which we often do not.
Paying attention to patterns. If you’re talking to potential customers and you notice behavioral patterns around why they make choices that’s important to pay attention to. A few years back I began meeting with an executive coach who told me he could guess how I was going to feel on any given day based on how sales were going that week. I had a pattern of being heavily affected by sales and it could thus be safe to assume that money was the goal for me at that time. Now things have changed and my goals have re-aligned, since I’m going on this extended tirade about how you should get to know your customers and not just make more money, but at that time he could pay attention to the pattern in my behavior and know that anything related to making more money was going to be important to me in that headspace because my goal was to make more money.
Asking what is important (Best Method). This is my favorite, because it doesn’t guess anything, it lets people self express and tell you what they’re thinking and feeling rather than you assuming (which can get you into all sorts of trouble). Even if the person doesn’t know exactly what’s important and can’t give you a totally self-knowing example, whatever they say will be helpful because you’ll hear what’s going on in their mind.
6. How can I help them reach their goals?
This is the “selling part” notice how it’s not near the top of the list? That’s because you have to go through steps 1-5 before you can even begin to think about selling any of your products or services.
Additionally, you should have eliminated a huge amount of people going through the first 5 steps because you will have realized that you honestly can’t be of assistance to them.
If in fact you have determined you can be helpful to the person then all you have to do is play back what you’ve learned about the potential customer and show how you can help.
1. If they’re a person in your target audience, let them know. “I can be helpful to marketers who are trying to find their own voice”
2. If they’re trying to learn about themselves, let them know you can help “I work with marketers to discover your inner voice that sets you apart from everyone else”
3. If you know what they’re interested in, play that back “We will work through discovering how to use your voice in your writing, how to sound more natural, how to connect with your customers”
4. If you know what they care about, say it “I know time is important to you and there’s never enough of it, so this course will run 15 minutes a day for less than the daily cost of your morning coffee”
5. If you know their goals, talk about it “By the end of this course you will know how to use your true voice to sell more products”
6. If you help this type of person, be honest “I’ve helped 100’s of marketers learn their true selves and discover how to sell millions in products and services”
I know this post is a little harsh, and that’s because we miss the point so much as marketers. We obsess over the best way to create copy, when to run a Facebook ad, how much to spend, how to “hack” the system. We spend so much time on micro-improvements when we’re searching in the wrong place to begin with.
If you want to spend your time well and not waste it on building a quiz, put the majority of your efforts into better understanding who the quiz is for, what they are interested in, what they want to learn about themselves, what they care about, generally put time and mental energy into understanding who your potential customers are.
This isn’t done so you can manipulate or exploit them, it’s done so you can actually serve them by offering what you can to be helpful.
Spend your time knowing who you are selling to and it will serve you well from this point forward in every single marketing campaign you ever run.