Ask by Ryan Levesque

The basic idea of this book is very simple: You are just guessing what your customers actually want, right now and in the future. So perhaps it’s time you asked them what they want.

According to Levesque, the way to check is to put them through a series of surveys.

Their answers to these survey questions will enable you to put your customers into groups.

When you have those groups, you can better tailor your product/service packages to these groups.

Sounds pretty reasonable? Pretty simple?

That’s because it is.

Levesque does describe these surveys in moderate-to-light detail, and does provide a few examples of the emails that you can adapt for your own purpose.

But, I’m sorry to say, it doesn’t provide the formula that I expected from reading the title of the book. And worse, it pushes you to buy Levesque’s survey software. It’s just not easy to set up the system he proposes without it.

What I got out of this book is a single idea: Why guess what my customers want when I should just ask them via email?

And for that reason, the book was worth reading.

I didn’t find much to highlight in the book, but I hope my following notes are helpful to you in some way.

My notes on Ask: The counterintuitive online formula to discover exactly what your customers want to buy…create a mass of raving fans…and take any business to the next level by Ryan Levesque

There’s a famous quote that’s been attributed to Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.

People don’t know what they want.

People essentially are only good at answering two basic types of questions when they don’t know what they want:

  1. What it is they don’t want
  2. and what they’ve done in the past

The pillars of the system are four primary surveys:

  1. The “Deep Dive” Survey
    • You simply run an open-ended survey sent by email, ask them what their single greatest challenge is (along with several additional questions)
    • You can also fast-track this process by partnering with someone who does have a list
  2. The “Micro-Commitment Bucket” Survey
    • ask people a series of small, non-threatening, multiple-choice questions prior to asking more pointed and private questions
    • You’re using the answers to those questions to put people into different “buckets” so you can customize your marketing, sales messaging, and the products you introduce to each customer based on what “bucket” (or group) they fall into
  3. The “Do You Hate Me” Survey
    • Send by email to everyone who has entered into your email follow-up system, but who has not bought from you after you’ve presented people with the absolute best deal, price, or promotion you can offer.
    • This survey goes out to non-buyers by email to figure out why they haven’t bought from you.
    • “What’s the single biggest reason why you’ve decided not to work with me or purchase the XYZ product? Was it something I said? Something I didn’t say?” or “Do you just hate me? 🙂 Click on this link to let me know.
  4. The “Pivot” Survey
    • “Hey, listen, I know you’re not really interested in what we’ve been talking about, so which of the following options would you like me to talk about next? Would you like to know about Topic A, or perhaps Topic B, or maybe even Topic C?
    • What you’re really asking is “What do you want me to try to sell you next?

The Deep Dive Survey

“Hey, over the next coming weeks I’d like to do something a little bit different. I thought it would be fun to ask people what they wanted to learn about.” I then go on to say: “If you could take just 5 minutes and tell me what is the single biggest challenge that you’re struggling with in your business right now… If you could take 30 seconds to tell me what that is, a) it would mean the world to me and b), most importantly, I’ll be able to use that information to gear my upcoming emails toward topics you specifically want to know more about.

The low-threshold question you might ask here will vary based on the market you’re in.

A/B question is often “Are you a man or a woman?” You might consider doing the same thing, if gender provides useful context or is relevant to the information and marketing message you might deliver.

I really wanted to know if people are full-time entrepreneurs—whether their Internet business is their full-time income or if they have a separate day job.

Next button you will see the question: Which of the following best describes you?

I’m fishing for potential “buckets”.

The next question you’ll see is: “Roughly, what’s the overall size of your own business in terms of gross sales $?

The next question in the Deep Dive Survey in our example is: “What’s your primary niche/market?

When I’m talking about case studies in my marketing, I want to make those case studies as relevant as possible.

“Lastly, I may want to follow up with a few people personally to learn about your situation. If you’d be open to chatting for a few minutes on the condition that I promise not to sell you anything—please leave your name and phone number below.”

In my experience, I’ve found that three to five buckets is generally the “sweet spot” that’ll give you 80% of the results that segmentation provides.

On your landing page, what you’re saying is this: “By asking you a few questions we can help diagnose your problem, give you the solution, and even customize that solution to help your particular situation.

Your Thoughts?

What do you think? Have you read the book? Did you try the strategy?

Have your say in the comments below.

7 Replies to “Ask by Ryan Levesque”

  1. I’ve been getting started with surveys recently, but finding it difficult to get my existing list to complete a short 4 question, 60-second survey.

    Ryan recommends getting 1,000 survey responses ideally, with a minimum of 500.

    (One of his FB group asked him would 100 responses suffice, he said it’s better than nothing, but not great.)

    I’m struggling to get over 30!

    It looks like I’ll need to do some PPC, and I’ve heard numbers of around $5 per completed survey, so that’s around $5,000 to get 1k responses. Ouch.

  2. I haven’t read the book but was looking for reviews to see if it was worthwhile – and discovered your page!
    Your page is worthwhile!
    Thank you for this objective and helpful overview of the methodology and the purpose of the book.

  3. Just to follow up my earlier comment, what I ended up doing to get survey completes was to volunteer to review a bunch of business websites.

    It took me about 15 hours to do the reviews, but I ended up with 22 surveys completed (I asked each business owner after the review).

    I also used it as a case study and repurposed it to create a bunch of content – you can see it on my site if you go to the blog and look for Common Website Mistakes.

      1. Yeah, I think it was about 28 hours in total including writing up everything and creating the docs. Here’s what I got out of it:

        1) A very popular post on Reddit (400+ upvotes)
        2) A case study/high quality lead generating post for my blog detailing the 7 critical mistakes I identified on the websites
        3) Stats that I can quote in future to refer back to
        4) A checklist/process for my internal use to make all future site reviews easier and quicker (this will replace my previous process which took a long time)
        5) A $7 tripwire product (a workbook to help them fix the 7 mistakes) that I offer to email subscribers on the email subscribe thank you page
        6) A bunch of ideas for content generation (one example is turning the blog post content into a webinar for lead generation)

        It was a lot of work, but as a few people I’ve been listening to recently have said: do the things that don’t scale!

        Have you been reading much yourself recently? I love the summaries here, have read a whole bunch of them – keep up the good work!

        1. I’ve been reading more than ever: council documents though. I’m running for councillor (and eventually mayor) of the city I live in. 🙂

          1. Wow, that’s certainly different! You might find Robert Cialdini useful to read (or re-read!).

            Best of luck with that!

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