Topic: Our Forum

Improving Questions, To Improve Responses

Posted by Ryan Rutan on 500 Points
Hello All,

I hope this gains some interest, as I think it could be universally beneficial to all the users of the forum on this site.

Very frequently, question postings on the MarketingProfs forum lack basic detail that is essential to providing sound, insightful answers to the questions, which can lead to several unfortunate outcomes, or a combination thereof.

One is that experts must prompt the poster for the information, which delays the process, and can be tedious for the expert.

Another is that some experts may choose to start posting presumptive/speculative answers, which may appeal to the poster, but perhaps for the wrong reason, if they have not fully considered the context of their question.

I would love to start a conversation (and I am willing to spend some points to do it!) around what potential methods we could use to coax this information from the posters more systematically; be it a more detailed question form (potentially with the specific additional detail being based on the Topic Area), or moderator response (perhaps pre-written responses based on the most frequently requested additional information, to ease administrative burden).

I hope I have provided enough detail here to remain clear of hypocrisy!

Kind regards,


Ryan Rutan
Branding Brainiac
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  • Posted by Ryan Rutan on Author
    Thanks Randall, I appreciate the feedback, and echo the sentiments.


    Ryan Rutan
    Branding Brainiac

  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    Another option: if people don't want to fill out a form, then up the minimum point value of the question. That'll encourage people to complete the intake form but allow for those that don't/can't.
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    My experience (in the consulting world) suggests that most clients/people simply want to ask their question(s) and get fast responses. Instant gratification.

    They lose interest quickly when you start asking important -- often strategic -- questions. The number of questions that are abandoned bears this out. I think the volume of questions on KHE will go down quickly if we require more detail up-front.

    Think about the objectives of this forum. For MarketingProfs it's to get new members. They certainly don't want to make it more difficult to ask a question. And for most of us, it's to share our knowledge and experience in hopes that we'll ultimately land a new client/customer. In essence, we're giving free samples of what we want to sell.

    What would be the advantage (for either MarketingProfs or the KHE experts) to make it more difficult for a person to ask a question?

    When people don't provide enough information up-front, that's our opportunity to teach them about marketing, to ask some questions that will help them understand what we do, and ultimately to guide them to the answers they need/want (even when those are different from the answers to the original questions).

    The better folks understand marketing, the more likely they are to seek expert help now and in the future. That's a great opportunity for us. Let's not mess with a formula that's working.
  • Posted by Harry Hallman on Accepted
    Mgoodman brings up a good point, but maybe not the total reason people contribute to these answers. He says the people responding are doing it to get business. I agree, to some degree, but I also believe we do it to enhance our own skills.

    It made me wonder, just how much business contributors really get from this exercise. I haven't received one dollar from answering questions here. How about the rest of you?

    Also, I am not sure what the strategic goals of MP are but, of course, they need to make money by having new members. Quality attracts quality and some of these questions are absolutely absurd. I especially dislike it when a person who is starting a marketing service company asks questions about marketing a grade school kid could answer. It makes the whole forum look less than professional.
  • Posted by Ryan Rutan on Author
    Thanks to those who have responded thus far!

    Harry, I am glad you posted, as I was thinking along the same lines in response to Michael's posting above, but you put it quite nicely.

    I was not as concerned with the point regarding making money as individuals here, as with the point of how it would effect MP, and our thoughts were aligned there. The more quality people get from interaction here, the more likely they are join.

    Kind regards,


  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Accepted
    Dear Ryan,

    I agree with pretty much all of what's already been said. I'd like to
    see more information in questions, perhaps as a mandatory part of the question submission process.

    Or perhaps having people GIVE a certain number of answers or clock
    up a certain number of points BEFORE they're permitted to pose questions? This might weed out some of the one liners and riffraff, thereby improving the quality of the questions, which, in theory, could lead to better answers.

    In sales, which customer do you prefer to deal with? The one that simply has no clue and wants the wind, the stars, and the moon for nought? Or the client that's willing to spend a little extra time and effort to explain what they need and what they're prepared to pay for?

    The aggravation and refund rate of the first kind of customer saps one's will to live, whereas dealing with the second can make life fun.

    Surely the same rule applies to questioners here, many of whom sign up, ask one poorly thought out question—the answers to which they sometimes get all pissy assed about, before they then vanish without adding to the debate elsewhere.

    As for instant gratification and making it more difficult to ask a question? I think it might be easier to get a more useful answer with more detail in the question. If people post half-assed or poorly thought-out questions, surely they'll get skinny answers.

    Gary Bloomer
    Wilmington, DE, USA
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    Go to Google and enter the search term "tagline for new realtor." See what comes up as the top result. (For those who are really lazy, it's MarketingProfs KHE.)

    So when a new realtor searches for help, there's a good chance they'll end up on the KHE and become a member. (MarketingProfs wins.)

    Then they ask their question, and it's not likely to be terribly sophisticated because they're not professional marketers ... maybe they don't have a clue what marketing is all about. They just want a tagline because they think it's a good idea to have one. Or they've seen taglines on other realtors' signs, and figure it can't hurt.

    They don't search the archives because they don't even know there ARE archives. They don't read the guidelines because they don't know there ARE guidelines. They just want to ask their question and get a tagline so they can order business cards next week and get started selling real estate.

    We respond ... either with some suggestions or with questions about their strategy, their market, their target audience, etc. We resist the temptation to become annoyed because we've "seen this movie before," but for them it's the first time they've come to KHE and perhaps the first time they've even thought about marketing.

    So why wouldn't we gently help them understand what they're up against, what the role of a tagline is, and how they can improve their chances of success as new realtors?

    And the better we do that, the better each of us will look next time someone searches the archives, enters a Google search and finds KHE, or considers whether they might want to hire some professional marketing help. (WE win.)
  • Posted by Ryan Rutan on Author
    Thanks everyone! This has been extremely interesting so far. I will leave it open a few more days just to see if we get any other perspectives on this

    Kind regards,

  • Posted by Harry Hallman on Accepted
    W.M.M.A. I am here everyday, but like you I just don't partisipate like I once did, mainly because so many questions are sill. At least in my eyes. So I comment when I feel I have something to contribute to someone who cares.
  • Posted by Ryan Rutan on Author
    Hi Juliet,

    You make a very sound point regarding the first time experience being daunting. I would forward the opinion that guidance (and it need not be compulsory) would go a long way towards mitigating this particular issue.

    I do think you may have take some liberties with my original question, and gone to an extreme.

    I am not talking about radical change, nor did I intend the outcome of this dialogue to create fussy pedantic processes. In fact, I have no power to enforce change, unless the ideas shared here have some inherent value to MarketingProfs and their various constituencies.

    As for your theoretical bottom line, where we only answer the questions we like: Sure, of course we can pick and choose, we are here of our own volition, I would just like to improve the number of likable questions. In the cases where it is inability to properly frame the question, due to lack of specific marketing sophistication on the part of the asker, why not assist them to ask better questions, and get better answers?

    Rather than the Fahrenheit 451 scenario where all freedom to respond is taken away, I was envisioning something akin to an optional "question wizard" that would guide users through posting with context based for particular types of questions. I am not looking to constrain anything about the dialogue in the forum. On the contrary, I am hoping to free some information from the mind’s of our posters.

    Kind regards,


    PS I will be compiling and summarizing all comments here after i close the question. If anyone would like a copy, please let me know via my profile.
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    Don't you have to become a member of MarketingProfs to post a question? And once you become a member, don't you get the weekly newsletter forever ... or until you pro-actively unsubscribe?

    When MarketingProfs touts membership of 367,000+, does that include all the people who ask a question and abandon (but don't unsubscribe)? Or do you have to visit once a year to remain a member?
  • Posted by prhyatt on Accepted
    Many good points by all. Jumping in late here, while I would love to have a form, I agree with those who say it would discourage new users. From experience with clients, I can say that just because you have a form doesn't mean that people will answer everything and do it well. Then of course if you "reject" it for incomplete info, well, then that's a REALLY negative user experience, isn't it? Not the way we want to welcome new users/members.

    One suggestion I would offer is to have a means for the experts to ask clarifying questions without negatively impacting their "responded/accepted" ratio. In answering questions, some of us are selective for the reasons cited above, but also because we use the "accepted answer" as a way to track whether our answers are helpful or not. There are times when I might ask a poster for more information, but don't do so because that post will most certainly not be "accepted," so it will be logged as an unaccepted response. (If I am being too competitive here, please feel free to slap my virtual hand).

  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    1. prhyatt: It's been my experience that asking for clarification is usually rewarded with accepted answers. Not always, but usually. I usually reassure the asker, though, that we need the information if we're going to do a good job for them. That explanation may make the exchange more positive.

    2. carrie77: I would think that there might be an indirect financial benefit from non-paying members through higher advertising rates. Advertisers presumably pay on a per-thousand basis, so more eyeballs on the site would translate to greater revenue. It's not direct, but I suspect there IS some value.

    Further, I would think that new paying members start off by being non-paying members, then upgrading at some point. So the bigger the pool of non-paying members, the greater the chances of landing new paying members.

    Net, I'd guess that growing the non-paying membership has some [indirect] value for MarketingProfs.

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