If you want unbiased feedback on your marketing material or a new product where do you go? If your answer is:

  • Friends,
  • Family, or
  • Employees.

You should seriously reconsider.

While friends and family may try to give you honest feedback, generally they are naturally biased… they will generally tell you what you want to hear. Why? To show their support. After all, isn't that what family is all about and why you chose your friends?

Employees are influenced by balancing showing support, not making their boss annoyed, and trying to be honest.

Besides, none of these people are likely to be representative of your customers.

So valid options include:

  • Market research,
  • Focus groups,
  • Surveys,
  • Customer feedback,
  • User testing,
  • Etc.

You can attempt these yourself or get outside help.

Today I had a demo of a cool product called Focus Forums that is one online tool that you can use to gather information about your customers' views a little more scientifically.

But if you are on a shoestring budget, you may be able to get some feedback on the cheap, especially if your customer demographic is relatively easy to find.

Find a place where people in your target group have to wait for something. Then approach them with your questions and samples of what you are offering or wanting an opinion on. Ask, listen and make notes. Then give them a small gift (Starbucks coffee card, etc.) if they took it seriously. Hey they might be a future customer and they did something of value for you. Besides, the next person in line will not be likely to say no if they just saw you giving something away. Might cost you $50 for 10 respondents.

This may not work for you, but the point is to be creative within your niche.