Billion Dollar SurveyMonkey Asks Us to Stop Monkeying Around

As a startup, you jump in to the game knowing you'll come up against a little competition. Many times, you got in the game precisely because you felt like you could take on the competition directly. And our story certainly has some aspects of that. We started PopSurvey because we felt (and still feel) strongly that the current survey and customer feedback landscape is awful on just about every front.

One of our biggest competitors (SurveyMonkey) is the proverbial elephant in the room when talking about online surveys. They completely dominate the landscape and have the lion's share of the market. So, it was quite interesting to hear from them about how they couldn't bear a "chimp scratching its butt" (see video below).

All animal puns intended. Can you guess which one SurveyMonkey just asked us to stop making reference to?

"We would therefore request that you remove all mention of monkeys on your website and marketing materials."

Being asked to "remove all mention of monkeys" has got to be some sort of legal first.

In all fairness, the letter was actually pretty nice and lighthearted, but as some old person somewhere once said, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

An 800-pound gorilla just asked wee little PopSurvey to stop talking about monkeys. Literally. Don't talk about monkeys anymore. Who knew a 3-person startup could ruffle the feathers of company recently valued at over $1 BILLION? Though I guess referencing "feathers" would make them a flying monkey, as it were. Which just conjures up nightmarish images from Wizard of Oz. My childhood-self is in a corner crying.

Sigh, they're making this too easy.

In their letter they say that using the monkey reference "attempts to associate SurveyMonkey with the rather unbecoming and insulting image of incompetent monkeys. (We also don't think you give monkeys enough credit )." Okay, credit given… those monkeys on that show are pretty clever.

Jokes aside, let's be clear about something. PopSurvey is simply a better product.

But, you should decide for yourself. Give us a try and let us know what you think. We'll let you talk bad about monkeys as much as you'd like.

So what's our response to SurveyMonkey? Lighten up and let's worry about making great products instead of what a video of a "chimp scratching its butt" infers. The banana is in your tree, SurveyMonkey.

by Josh Pigford

New Feature: Panelists

We've got a great big shiny new feature for you today, called Panelists!

Panelists gives you access to over 7 million panelists in 50 countries across hundreds of demographic points.

Doing market research on a new or existing product can be really tedious, because finding people in your target market isn't always the easiest thing.

Now, with the click of a button, the adjustment of a few sliders and the checking of a box or two, you can get your survey in front of the exact users you want!

Pricing is as low as about $1 (depending on your number of surveys, number of questions and your demographic settings), and most orders are filled within 2-3 days.

The new Panelists feature is available to all users on the Premium and White Label plan.

Check out this demo video to see it in action!


by Josh Pigford

TechSmart Interview with PopSurvey CEO Josh Pigford

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Lee Schneider for his new podcast, TechSmart.

It was great talking shop with him and giving some insight into some of our decision making and the business side of things.

You can listen to the whole thing here...

You can subscribe to the TechSmart podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher Radio.

by Josh Pigford

Giving Good Team Member Feedback

If you are like most people in business, you have heard enough “team” that you never want to hear it again.

“There is no I in team” but there is “eat” and there is “me” and put the two together and you find what most people feel about team and team meetings.

There are a few things that will make your team and team member feedback a working reality instead of an awful chore.

This is not your team, it is our team

If you come to a team meeting with a preset notion that you are going to have everything your way, you should just stay out of the meeting. Flippantly changing things as a power-move just makes team meetings last longer and accomplish less.

The idea of a team meeting is to accomplish a well-defined goal in a short period of time.

If you cannot listen at least learn to shut up

Giving good team member feedback means you know how to listen. Some people call this active listening.

You listen with your eyes and your ears. Look at what a person’s facial expressions and body language are saying about the words they are saying. These cues give you the real down low on whether the person talking really means what they're saying or are just talking to impress your boss or just to waste time.

If you really have nothing to say that is constructive and pertinent to the real issue at hand, then by all means keep silent.

Not talking can be a form of tacit agreement so if you do not agree speak up, but if you do agree most people will see that from your face and body.

Respect

If you expect respect, show respect.

Good team member feedback implies respect for the person you are giving feedback to.

Think before you talk

Ask yourself how you would feel if you received the feedback that you are thinking of giving another person.

Couch you feedback in expressions and words that are as polite and positive as possible while still directly and emphatically carrying the message you wish to convey to a team member.

Teams are for conversation. The idea that you should praise openly and criticize in private has no place in a team atmosphere.

One great way to get feedback is using our team member feedback survey template!

by Josh Pigford

When to Ignore Your Customers

One of the most commonly heard mantras in all of business is that “the customer is always right.”

But what if the customer is wrong? Who says that regular John Doe, buying your products, has more business savvy than a team of B-school graduates?

No one. Many companies, from Apple to Chrysler, have all selectively ignored their customer base to gain huge profits. However, ignoring your customers at the wrong time can lead to huge catastrophe.

Feedback Slavery

The most dangerous part of customer feedback is becoming a slave to it. It seems obvious; you should give your customers what they want. Then they will buy it.

However, Barry Diller, the famous media executive formerly at Paramount, Fox and currently at IAC/InteractiveCorp, summarized being captive to customer feedback like this…

“We become slaves to demographics, to market research, to focus groups. We produce what the numbers tell us to produce. And gradually, in this dizzying chase, our senses lose feeling and our instincts dim, corroded with safe action.”

What he’s saying is that overdosing on customer feedback can kill creativity. Tom Kuczmarski, a business consultant, conducted a survey of various businesses and came up with the statistic that 90% of “new” products are simply line extensions while the remaining 10% are the truly new products and where the real profit potential lies.

Well, practical innovation is where the real profit potential lies. Gimmicky, novelty products may test well in focus groups, like the inflatable baseball gloves that tested phenomenally and then flopped in stores, but when it comes down to a customer actually purchasing the product, that’s a different story.

Chrysler Ignores; Creates Icon

Customers are surprisingly boring. While wildly different products may play on their fantasies, when it comes to spending their hard-earned cash, they want some consistency. For example, in 1984 Chrysler began making the world’s first minivan even though it tested horribly with focus groups. It went on to become one of the most popular cars in the 1980s. It was a practical extension of existing cars and it catered to the demand for more occupants per vehicle, but the focus groups said it would flop.

What all these visionary market leaders have in common is faith in their product. Ignoring customer feedback is a good strategy when you’re confident in your skills, completely understand your market and are making logical product expansions.

However, there are times when the customer is right. Once your product is established and you begin making tweaks to the product, customer feedback becomes paramount.

Dell Fiasco

For example, in 2005 Dell was having major issues with some of its hardware components and its support forums were exploding with commentary. What did Dell do? It ignored its customers. It actively deleted and ignored posts about its faulty products.

And what did those angry customers do? They blogged. They took their frustrations out of Dell’s hands and into cyberspace.

If your customers are actively complaining on your own turf, do not ignore them! Dell did a complete 180 and began actively addressing its critics. It feverishly began replacing computer parts and maintaining a real voice for its critics on the web. Lesson learned: never ignore a complaining customer, especially a tech savvy one.

Naturally, we think we've got a pretty amazing survey tool for gather customer feedback. Gathering customer feedback never hurts. You just need to know how to use it.

by Josh Pigford