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A Handy Survey Template for (Pre-Launch) Products

By Momoko Price

In my last blog post I broke down the hidden dangers of review-mining as customer research for pre-launch products, and mapped the steps I take to avoid them.

Just to recap, here’s the full 4-step process:

STEP 1: Internal Discovery

Get insight about which pain points & problems the product is meant to solve from company stakeholders via an internal workshop/discussion. I then grade these pain points according to frequency and urgency.

STEP 2: Targeted Pay-Per-Response Survey

Validate how real-life prospects perceive the top-ranked pain points (from Step 1) using a pay-per-response survey — specifically one that includes a well-crafted screener question to filter out irrelevant respondents. I keep my eye out for for standout pain points in the results data, a.k.a pain points that survey respondents themselves rank as the worst and the most desirable to eliminate.

STEP 3: Competitor Review Mining

With the top pain points from Step 2 in mind, I collect bits of copy I can use for headlines and subheads by mining competitor product reviews, focusing specifically on any turns of phrase that accurately and vividly capture the emotion and experience of said pain points.

STEP 4: Test Messages with Ads

Last, I edit them into value-proposition-focused headlines to test further via PPC and Facebook ads.

However, in that post I fell short of sharing the exact survey questions I use in Step 2 above, which is arguably the most important part of the process.

So without further ado, here are the key questions (1 screener question, 3 research questions) I like to use to pinpoint the pain points & motivations I should be targeting when drafting persuasive sales copy for pre-launch product clients:

QUESTION 1 (SCREENER): “Which of these best describes you?”

Question Goal: Filter relevant respondents.

Answer format: Multi-option checkbox with at least 5 options. At least one should allow respondents to “pass” the screener and move on to participate in the survey. Note that each option should seem neutral. None of them should stand out as an obvious flag for something you want or don’t want in a respondent.

**Example A:** Good screener for filtering car owners **Example B:** Bad screener for filtering car owners

Which of the following describes you?
  • I own a car
  • I own a boat
  • I own a house
  • I own a bike
  • I own a truck
  • None of the above

Do you own a car?
  • Yes
  • No

QUESTION 2: “How frustrating do you find the process of [completing key task]?”

Question Goal: Gauge severity of the problem space. Get your prospects to tell you how much they actually care about solving the problem your product targets. This question is critical because it can help you suss out your overall product-market fit and problem awareness. If your prospects don't perceive any pain related to the tasks or problems your product targets ... your messaging challenges are going to be steeeeeeeep.

Answer format: Net Promoter-style format, with the spectrum ranging from 1 to 5 (or 10, if you like), clarifying that 1 = Not frustrating at all, 10 = Extremely frustrating.

**Example for a company that sells wiper blades online:**

"How frustrating do you find the process of buying or replacing wiper blades?"

1 - Not frustrating at all

5 - Extremely frustrating

QUESTION 3: “What — if anything — do you dislike MOST about how you currently [solve key task/problem]?”

Question Goal: Get your prospects to identify the most common and most urgent pain point that your product can solve. The top-ranked pain point will likely set the foundation of your value proposition messaging.

Answer format: Single-option radio buttons listing the pain points you (or your client) believe your future customers care about.

IMPORTANT: In addition to the list of pain points you've brainstormed internally with your team, make sure to include the following choices as well:

  • “Nothing. I have no problem with {{ key task/problem }}.”
  • “Other” ( make sure the respondent can elaborate on what “other” means )
**Example for a company that sells wiper blades online:**

"What — if anything — do you dislike MOST about how you currently buy / replace wiper blades?"

Paying too much

Not knowing how to choose the right ones

Getting a poor-quality product

Installation difficulties

Nothing. I have no problem with buying or replacing my wiper blades.

Other (click to type details)

QUESTION 4-6: “Do you ever wish you could [unique desirable outcome]?”

Question Goal: Get your prospects to gauge & quantify the appeal of each desirable outcome you've brainstormed internally with your team. (You should have at least three!)

Answer format: Single-option radio buttons listing the 4 following choices:

  • No, I don’t care whatsoever
  • Sometimes, it would be nice but it’s not a big deal to me
  • Yes, I think about this a lot and wish there was a way
  • Other (click to type details)

NOTE: I numbered these as “Questions 4-6” above because you should have brainstormed at least 3 messages to test (i.e. unique desirable outcomes your product achieves for the customer). So each question is focuses on a specific candidate value proposition.

(This last question is especially insightful because the answers are written in such a way as to get the user to choose the option that fits their mindset and specify how often and how intensely they desire what your product is designed to achieve.)

And that's it! Simple, but so insightful!

The next time you decide to write some product launch sales copy for an early-stage product, try setting up a pay-per-response survey with the questions above to get some clear insights about what messages resonate best with your prospects before you write.

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