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What is a Button

One of the products of a marketing survey is a “Button.”

Kind of an odd word for something from a marketing activity. But don’t let that fool you – it’s vitally important.

A button is a point of agreement among a particular public about a product or service. A button results from a survey question and is used in marketing to get the attention of the company’s perspective buyers.

“What do you consider to be the single most important factor in selecting a dog food for your pet?” might be a question that would be asked on a survey for a pet food manufacturer.

The survey would, of course, have to be conducted on dog owners. Depending on the product, the survey might even be conducted on owners of large dogs. 



 or small ones – 


Our clients often think the top answer to survey questions about their products or services is Price. This is particularly true for more expensive items – like, say electronics, legal services or a kitchen remodel. But more than 25 years conducting surveys for 100s of companies has taught me that price is rarely the most important item for customers when making a purchase. More often than not, it is often the third or fourth in terms of importance.

In our made-up survey question about dog food, the top answer would likely have been “Natural, healthy ingredients.” (I previously conducted extensive market research for an informercial about a health product for pets.)

Customers, whether buying nutritional products, clothes, financial services or a seat on the next commercial trip to Mars, are generally much more interested in the quality of the product and good service than price. And most people – not all but most – are willing to pay a little bit more for a product that has a higher standard of quality and/or better service.

Think Whole Foods or Nordstrom.

Management often thinks they know what their customers want – and often they do – but they don’t often express it in their marketing materials the way the customer thinks of it. The wording is different, which blunts the impact of the advertising.

The wording of the button is extremely important.

Surveying for a company that imports chilis into the U.S. we ask, “What might motivate you to try a new brand of chili?”

Let’s say the answer was “Spicier” but the manufacturer says, “Our chilis are hotter than the competition.” Hotter is not necessarily the same as spicier, and they miss the bullseye.

Use what the prospect says.

It has also been the case, on occasion, where client “knows better” than what the survey of their prospects reveals to be important to them. And they use something else entirely.

We did a survey for a major cell phone manufacturer out of Asia. Huge company. Not as big as Apple (no one is as big as Apple), but big. They were entering a market in a Latin American country and retained us to conduct surveys of the mobile phone using public to find out the “hot buttons” – what people really needed and wanted from their mobile phones.

One of the key buttons that was wanted by this public was longer battery life. They also wanted fewer dropped calls (the existing provider had a near monopoly and their service was poor, particularly in areas away from major urban centers).

But the manufacturer disregarded the survey results and decided to lead their advertising by promoting a new high-tech camera feature. After several months and I don’t know how much money, the Asian telecom company packed their bags and went home.

You’d think after they hired a survey company (with Spanish speaking surveyors, no less) and paid the freight for the surveys, they would use the results. Nope. Oddly, I have found this to be the case with larger corporate clients where the ultimate decision maker is far removed from the scene and has a “fixed idea” of why the public should want the product.

You have to ask the public what they want, what they consider valuable about what it is that you sell. Assuming you can deliver it, that is what you should promote.

Then you have the other extreme – a CEO who, despite his own internal surveys, hires an independent third-party survey firm to confirm his data and is willing to adjust his marketing to customer needs and wants, if need be.

Benjamin Nagengast is a twenty-first century entrepreneur.

Among other wild ventures, he created two highly successful “scream parks” – one in Dade City, Florida and another in Anderson, Indiana.

Last year Benjamin contacted On Target Research and wanted us to conduct surveys to either find new marketing buttons for his theme parks or confirm those that he had been using.

We conducted surveys of customers of both theme parks and found that the research and the buttons Benjamin had been using were exactly correct. Frankly, I have never seen a client of ours so accurately grasp his customer’s needs and wants.

Was the confirmation of these buttons valuable to Benjamin?

Here is what he had to say:

“On Target Research completed a thorough review of the overall direction of our existing marketing activities. We’ve had a lot of insight into our customer’s needs but have not formally confirmed our suspicions.

“Through surveys of our customers, On Target Research was able to confirm our marketing activities were spot on. 

“To us, this was a very valuable service. Many times in my business career, I have strayed away from workable strategies because of the whim of an executive, or the hunch of an advisor. To have concrete evidence that our marketing activities fulfill our customers’ needs is extremely important and helpful.”

Thanks, Benjamin. It was our pleasure.