When we study marketing at college, we’re taught how marketing is a service for the sales department and a driver for product development, feeding back the research from the real world which should define the next generation of products. That’s great in theory, but I’d guess that for the vast majority of you, the idea of having an input into product development is about as likely as having the casting vote on the chairman’s salary for next year. However, understanding the prospect and customer base is still an essential role for marketing, because without it, how can we know which promotional buttons to press? For too many companies, the choice of where and when to advertise seems to be based on the fact that “it looked nice, the last time we did it”, or even “the sales rep was convincing”. With the tools available to us nowadays, this is absurd. It really isn’t that hard to take a sample of a few hundred customers or prospects and ask them what you could do which would have an impact. They can reply in seconds, and enough of them will do so if you keep it simple enough. With that in mind, here’s a nice set of tips for use when surveying your prospects or customers. The Art and Science of the Ideal B2B Survey on the B2B Insights Blog looks at, er, the science and the art of the survey, and emphasises that it’s always “important to take a step back and try to look at the survey from the point of view of someone whos just received it.” Well worth a read.