Do You Know What Your Reader Really Wants?

So many of the writers and aspiring authors I meet cannot describe their market accurately, let alone tell me what their readers really want. As you create a business around your book—or prepare to write a nonfiction book, be sure you can describe your market and identify the needs, problems and concerns of your ideal readers, customers and clients. That’s the key to creating products, including books, and services they will purchase.

Today, on Day 27 of National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), Kathleen Gage, a marketing strategist and business consultant, offers a powerful tool to help you determining what your readers want so you can give it to them in all forms of information products. If you haven’t ever used surveys, it’s time to start… Even if you’re just about to finish your Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) Challenge project, you can still survey your audience and use the information you acquire to improve it as you revise during December.

Do You Know What Your Reader Really Wants?

By Kathleen Gage

surveying your market is importantAs a nonfiction author, it’s likely you write on subjects that provide viable solutions for your readers, clients and customers. Before you can create the solution, you need to know what your market needs, wants, and is willing to pay for.

Regardless of whether you are writing a book or creating information products, you need to know what your end user wants, needs and is willing to pay for.

I’m always amazed at how often someone will create a solution before they understand the problem. Not only is this a waste of time, you could cost yourself countless dollars and untold frustration when people don’t respond to your offers.

The solution? Find out what your market wants by asking. It’s literally that simple. One of the best ways to do this is with surveys.

Conducting a Survey

A well-constructed survey reveals a great deal. You can conduct a “name required” survey or one that is completely anonymous. Respondents tend to be more frank and honest on anonymous surveys. It’s as if they feel safer and tend to not hold back when they are not identified.

Surveys tell you what your market wants and how much they are willing to pay for it before you invest a lot of time and money developing products. They also provide fodder for articles, media releases, and blog postings based on what your market wants.

Unfortunately many professionals spend incredible amounts of time developing offerings based on what they think the market wants rather than what it does want. Survey, survey, survey—this is the magic word.

Keys to Successful Surveys
  • Identify your objective
  • Determine what information you need
  • Develop the questions
  • Conduct the survey
  • Analyze the responses
  • Develop products based on results
  • Repeat
Identify your Objective
  • Find out what is going on with your market
  • Provide points of conversation with your market
  • Determine what your market wants
  • Discover your level of service based on your customer’s perspective
  • Learn more about demographic information – who your market is specifically
  • Learn what you must prioritize based on market input
Determine What Information You Need

Determine what information is absolutely essential for you to know and what would be nice to know but is not essential.

Develop the Questions

Asking the right questions is one of the most important steps. Develop your questions based on your objective and what information you need to have. Don’t avoid questions that you may be resistant to asking, such as “What area of our program is least helpful?” or “What can we do to improve our services?” Many people avoid asking such questions because they don’t want negative feedback. But negative feedback is priceless; it allows you to improve on what you are doing.

Conduct the Survey

Before surveying on a large scale, you may want to test your survey with a small group of people. This helps you determine how effective and clear your questions are before investing in the larger effort. Be sure that those in your test market are representative of your real market. Surveying friends, family, neighbors, or anyone who is not in your market will not give you a true picture of what the problems are, what people are happy with, what their needs are, and where you need to focus your attention.

Analyze the Responses

Identify general themes, challenges, and interests based on responses. Use a program that allows you to run reports on your survey answers. For most solopreneurs and microbusiness owners, a service such as SurveyMonkey ( works just fine.

Develop Your Product Based on Results

Develop your product based on what your research determines. You should be able to determine pricing structures, delivery methods, frequency of offerings, and other pertinent information.

For the purpose of building a subscriber list, the survey results will provide insights as to what free offerings you need to create. Hitting the target with the right offers assures a greater number of opt-ins.

Survey results also enable you to develop marketing and sales messages using your customers’ language. Pay close attention to the words people use in their responses.

Repeat as Needed

Products and services have lifecycles. As sales from your current offerings decline or you notice requests for items you don’t currently offer, just repeat the above steps to gather more current information.

Knowing what is “hot” at any given time is simply a matter of researching your market. Find out what motivates them. For some it will be a high sense of values. For others it will be money, or status, or love. There are universal drives that are common to humans, and we all favor one or two of them over others. If you’re not familiar with these, do a self-assessment to discover what your own preferences are. That will make it easier for you to identify and understand what motivates others.

Types of Questions to Ask:
  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is___________________________?
  2. What is the most important part of training? (multiple choice)
  3. What is your single greatest challenge with___________________________?
  4. If you could solve one problem, what would it be?
  5. Give us your opinion on___________________________.

Take time upfront to know what your market wants in order to fully serve them and make great revenues from your offerings.

About the Author

New photo kathleenKathleen Gage is a marketing strategist and business consultant who works with entrepreneurs who are experts in their field. She works with her clients to help them fully identify their expertise, their market, gain massive visibility, and package their knowledge into various information products and services while generating healthy revenues.

Kathleen’s most recent book, Power Up for Profits! The Smart Woman’s Guide to Online Marketing, has been described as the most comprehensive books ever written by a woman, for women to help them grow their business online. Go to to order your own copy.

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Photo courtesy of alexmillos |


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