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How many questions should a questionnaire have when contacting followers for the first time?

We have a number of projects that we've done over the past couple of years and gained some followers. Now, we are asking them help us decide what the first product should be. This is our first contact with most of them.

There are multiple products in two totally different categories (t-shirts and tops AND high-end handbags). Though some people may want both.

We're having a discussion on exactly how much information to gather is just the right amount at this time. Right now, it's fairly short, pick either tops or handbags, put in age, gender, country, then some very basic questions about design and tech features, and finally ask if they would contribute to a kickstarter or crowdfund campaign if we had one.

I'm thinking of adding some questions about pricing and clothing size, but my colleaguesays it's better to have them respond fast than to receive very specific information. In this case quantity is an objective. I also would like to have a "Both" category meaning the ability to choose both the shirts and handbags and answer questions on both of them.

Should we try and get as much as we can by adding another section with size/price? Is it confusing to be able to pick both types of products?

Love your thoughts and to hear how others tackled the same thing for early stage pre-seed.

7 Replies

Chris Saad
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Chris Saad Advisor
Product Manager, API at Uber
Shorter the better. Fewer words, fewer questions, fewer options. People are busy and can typically only answer 3 or 4 simple questions (if that).
Eric Burleson
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Eric Burleson Entrepreneur
Product Manager-Program Services at Invodo
You should aim for a question length such that it doesn't take longer than 10 minutes to answer all questions. Also, have you observed any real differences in either who buys either product or how? That could give you some indication of how the market is naturally segmenting itself. A segment is different from another only in its purchasing behavior. That's the definition of a segment. If the behavior is somehow driven by demographics or some other characteristic, however, it then becomes useful in predicting the best way to market to that group or even sizing the different markets and deciding which to exclusively pursue.
Mamie Kanfer Stewart
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Mamie Kanfer Stewart Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder & CEO at Meeteor, Speaker, Change-maker
I was taught by a fantastic professor at Stern to ask a max of 10 questions and only ask what you absolutely need to know in order to make the next critical decisions.Its amazing how much information we think we need, but really, this is (hopefully) just the first point for engaging with your customers. If you feel the need to know more, consider having an 'opt in' at the end where they give you permission to follow up with them directly.

But the goal in my experience is to establish a relationships with the potential customer. If you demonstrate that your surveys repeatedly only take 1-2 minutes and you tell/show them how their responses are impacting your business, then they'll be more likely to be in dialogue with you over time and continue to give you more, useful input. This can establish a sense of loyalty on their part and most importantly get you more of the information you need to know at the right times.

As a side note, we use surveys with our beta customers and found that during our first round, we asked quite a few questions that seemed important but actually didnt help us improve our product/service. This also just cluttered up the data we were looking at. So we cut about 20% of our survey for the next round which we just started.
Dale Lampson
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Dale Lampson Advisor
Product Management at Fitbit
It's critically important to be clear about objectives. Is the immediate goal to 1) test out new product ideas, build a first-product prospect pipeline, expand your community, or something else? It's tempting to answer 'all of the above'. Resist that temptation to become unfocused.

If it's to get help with new product validation, then you may want to think about 2 things:

1) What is the relationship journey? What time span? What's shared (both ways)? How will the conversation/interactions play out?

2) What's in it for our follows? Why do they care? What can we say/do that will make them more passionate, opinionated, engaged, etc.?

You're on the cusp of the most addictive phase of any innovation cycle: testing your ideas with the only people who matter--those who may eventually pay you something.

So don't blurt out all your questions in the first minutes (e.g., think teenage romantic relationship initiation mistakes). But don't take forever to get around to the point either (e.g., think parents confronting teenager's indiscretions). Have a clear view of the journey (think your roadmap), and a detailed description of what you want to achieve at the next several milestones.

So to directly answer your question: If your next journey milestone has "ask about price and size", perhaps because your next critical product development decisions depend heavily on that, then ask away. Otherwise, don't.
Alison Lewis
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Alison Lewis Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO/Creative Director
All very good advice and narrowing down the questions.

We have a number of products and need to know which ones people will buy or which one to start with.
We also need the data for the pitch deck.

I was thinking there may be a way to add a little "freebie" reward at the end that tells them exactly how others voted.I think it's nice to have the data reflected back - so many companies just take and go. "Thank you! Did you know that 30% of all people said they wanted to tweet to their shirt"

We don't have much time or cash, so it needs to be an affordable morsel.


Scott Worthge
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Scott Worthge Entrepreneur
VP, Instantly, Inc.; Instructor, UC Berkeley Extension (Marketing); Owner, San Mateo Coffee Company
Well-meaning advice from those who commented. I have to say I think their perspective is limited, though. Mamie is closest - ask yourself what you will do with the results of every question, what decision the information gained will contribute to and help reduce the risk therefrom. But to say a questionnaire "should be" of any particular length is arbitrary. You can have those closely connected to and interested in a topic who will gladly answer a host of in-depth questions, with great info. But, to agree with the general perspective, for an audience you're not close to, maybe 10 minutes, better at 5-7, and expect them to engage through their mobile phones, so make sure your survey platform and your question format are appropriate (which most platforms really haven't nailed yet, and it pisses off those you most want to hear from!).
Alison Lewis
0
0
Alison Lewis Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO/Creative Director
I have a template ready for reviewing. I would love to share it with you all to get some feedback.
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