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Finding out information is a crucial part of running a business. No matter what industry or sector you are in, effective communication with stakeholders, customers and employees can make a huge difference to how smoothly things run.

An essential part of communication involves asking questions. The right questions can provide you with a clear focus and direction, as well as a solution to any problems you encounter. But, if you are not sure which questions to ask, you may not end up with all the information you need. Here are some ways you can make sure the questions you ask are giving you the most valuable information possible.

Make sure questions are well targeted

It is a good idea to determine an objective before asking your questions. If you are drafting a market research or feedback form, what information is going to be the most valuable to you? If you are looking to solve a problem, what information do you need to find out in order to do this effectively? It may help to determine the exact nature of the issue beforehand, so that you can more readily target your line of questioning.

Once you have a clear and detailed idea of what you want to know, you can target your questions to better provide you with the information you need, rather than sending users off on a tangent, or seeking irrelevant information that just wastes their time and yours.

Keep it objective

If you are seeking objective information, it is best to keep your questions objective. Avoid leading questions that can prod the person answering in a certain direction. If you are asking about the benefits of a product, don’t forget to ask about the negative aspects as well, to make sure you have a balanced perspective. Unbiased information is important when it comes to improving your product or service, and getting an idea of what consumers are looking for.

Are you asking the right people?

When you are looking for information about your target audience or market it is essential that you target your questions to the right sector of the community. Before you start, make sure that you have identified exactly who you want to market to, and that the questions are relevant to them. Targeting the wrong people, or asking everybody the same questions, can leave you with a lot of irrelevant and useless information, and result in you missing out on answers that might be really useful to you.

Effective communication is an important part of any business, particularly when it comes to gathering marketing information, or using customer feedback in resolving issues. Asking the right questions can provide you with essential information, help you understand a complex issue, and better identify your customers’ needs. Taking some time to think about the questions you are asking, and how effective they are, can also save you time and money, and help your business go forward as smoothly as possible.

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Jo Macdermott

Jo Macdermott

<a href="http://au.linkedin.com/in/jomacdermott">Jo Macdermott</a> is the Chief Marketing Consultant at <a href="http://www.nextmarketing.com.au/">Next Marketing</a> in Melbourne. She has 15 years of marketing experience, is a Certified Practising Marketer and is a sought after marketing media commentator. Jo specialises in working with small and medium businesses. Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/NextMarketingAU">Twitter here</a>.

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