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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 Paperback – April 21, 2015
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About the Author
In 2008, armed with nothing but a $450 laptop, an Ivy-League background in neuroscience, and an insatiable curiosity to understand why people buy...
Ryan Levesque left a lucrative career on Wall Street and later in Shanghai, China to launch a multimillion dollar online publishing business selling information and software using what's now become the "Ask Formula" as taught in this book.
Since then, Ryan has used the Ask formula to help build multi-million dollar businesses in 23 different industries, generating over $100 million dollars in sales in the process. Today, he and his team offer training, consulting, and implementation services for entrepreneurs and businesses at all levels.
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Further, I subscribed to his email list and when I unsubscribed he upped the amount of emails he was sending! That is so shady. I don't like supporting people without integrity and won't be buying anything from Ryan in the future.
He then goes into some helpful sections about getting input from your potential customers about what they're looking for and what challenges they face, etc, but then he teaches you how to wrap those powerful questions into a process that can only be described as an infomercial: cheesy "personalized" surveys that only modify the wording of the question and not the options, heavy-handed mind tricks to get visitors to buy your products before they leave your site, and a 12 email spam routine that "warms up" and turns up the "heat" on your survey respondents, and actually includes an email with a question - "Why do you hate me?". Of course all of these steps are facilitated by software he and his team created.
Seriously, this is a great formula for how to totally annoy and badger your potential customers. Only follow this process if you have something useless to sell, and need to trick as many people as possible into buying from you. I bet it's super helpful if that's your scenario, but I'd rather be way less snake-oily and just create value for people and grow more slowly.
What he's describing is a basic sales funnel. You don't need to read his life story, you don't his software, and I'd recommend avoiding this spammy approach. But that's just me. Best of luck if you go for his method. I hope you're not putting your own hard-earned reputation on the line.
The subtitle of this book is “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.” The author claims that his book is “the world’s most powerful marketing formula…”
The process Levesque describes should make your customers feel that you are talking directly to them, not at them. This is achieved through the “Ask Formula”, a way of asking questions that will assist you to accurately determine what your customer wants, the language of their context, and the issues and messages they want to hear. Asked correctly, they will tell you what they want to buy, and under what conditions they will be willing to buy from you.
“Instinctively, we ask people what they want. We think if we just ask them, they’ll tell us, and we can sit back and watch the dollars pour in,” says Levesque.
Steve Jobs, a man with a fine sense of what people will appreciate, said, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Henry Ford believed that, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.’”
However, people are good at answering what it is that they don’t want, and what they’ve done in the past. Had Ford asked his potential customers what they do not like about their horse, they might have responded that it is too slow, needs feeding, or only carries one person at a time.
The purpose and value of this book is to offer a formula that will allow you to identify what your customers want, even when your customers can’t quite articulate it. This is the value of the “Ask Formula.”
The method the author uses is a set of surveys. “The secret to spectacular sales (is) all about asking the right questions, in the right way, at the right time.” Levesque’s formula has had success in multiple businesses and has revitalized markets that were previously considered dormant.
When you are able to discover what your customer wants to buy through “somewhat counterintuitive” questions, and you are able to customize a solution for them, they are more likely to purchase from you. If, in addition, you can completely automate this process so it does not require a conversation with every single customer, you have a very powerful digital marketing system.
Executed correctly, these automated surveys will give you priceless information that will inform you of exactly what the customer wants to buy, and when they are ready to buy it. When you are present with the exact product or service when they are ready to buy, you will have a satisfied customer who will return for more.
Through this process of surveying potential customers, you will also be able to identify why they decided not to buy, so you can revise your campaign or correct your offering. When you have this working accurately, you have the ability to scale your business to something much, much larger.
The hard work, however, lies in getting the details of the process correct.
The Ask Formula uses a combination of questions in surveys in a very specific sequence, and requires that you act or adapt to the data you collect in very specific ways. If you are broadly addressing the right group of people for your product or service, the surveys or questions should appeal to their “sense of self-discovery and curiosity.”
The set of surveys operates like a funnel to assist you to clarify who is in your market, to engage with them, and then, further down the funnel, to refine your marketing approach to them and then to benefit by closing sales. Levesque’s “Survey Funnel Strategy” describe a step-by-step, detailed process to apply in your online business.
This funnel is significantly different to the common practice where you, as a prospective customer click on an online ad, are led to a landing page. Here you are immediately asked for your name and email address, and other details you probably would not like to enter, in exchange for a free report or coupon. Then you are shown a webpage with a “one-size-fits-all” offering, and moved too rapidly to the payment section for your payment details. Little surprise that the results are paltry.
The Survey Funnel Strategy offers a slower and more carefully crafted method that will allow you to really satisfy the client so the buying decision is so much more likely. Essentially you succeed by never assuming you know everything about your prospective customer, and you eliminate as much guesswork as possible. Having collected real data, cleverly and carefully, you better understand your market and the natural consumer language it uses.
When people do not buy you need to understand that too, so you can hone your approach for the future.
While the logic of this process is obviously compelling, the value of this book to anyone interested in micromarketing to a mass audience, lies in the clever construction of these surveys and doing the hard work.
Even if you do come to the conclusion that this process is beyond your capability, and you do need to engage the author’s company to do the work for you, you will have picked up great insights along the way.
You will also have seen proof of Levesque’s ability. You were self-selected as shown by the fact that you bought the book. You do know how complex doing the work correctly is, and you are now willing to buy it from a master.
Readability Light ---+- Serious
Insights High --+-- Low
Practical High +---- Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is the author of Strategy that Works.
The beginning chapters: If the purpose of reading this book is to know how to sell or create surveys better, then no one cares about the personal background of the author in much detail, desperate and frustrated to see the link between his struggle and the book (after all, levesque has already supposed to nailed the ASK formula when he got sick. Not much of a revelation or story builder for the readers). Levesque dedicated half of the book mentioning how great the book is but nothing about the methodology itself. It's really bad taste and offers a horrible blow to the credibility of the book (no one should to go such inapproaporate length to talk about how good the book is in that very book).
Also, the graphics of the excel documents in the book are way too tiny to be eligible. And the Information there is supposed to be important. It's just a very careless mistake throughout the book.
I'm not going to criticuze yet the methodology of the survey making methods myself, but the sentences in general are very repetitive, self-aggrandizing, and it's really hard to extrapolate the theory and apply to individual business as his theory is in general very narrowly discussed and based too focused on his own personal case studies.
Just spent $9 on the book and found out they offer the book for free online. But his official website (and the bonus materials he mentions in the book) is nowhere to be found. Fishy.
Top international reviews
The downside of the book:
The first half of it is a waste of time but the second half of the book is that good that deserves 5*