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How pre-meeting questionnaires may be costing you clients

I want to share a quick personal experience, and why I think it’s hugely relevant to any of you playing in the digital marketing space.

Last week, I popped out at lunchtime. Our offices are in Alexandria in Sydney, and there are plenty of cafes and pubs around the place.

As I was walking the streets. I passed a local pub called the Park View Hotel.

There I am thinking to myself, “I’ll pop in there and see if there’s something nice for lunch“.

I spot a menu on the wall, and the first problem appears…

The spot that the menu is positioned is directly above a table where a couple is deep in conversation as they eat lunch.

The last thing I want to do is hover over them, peering across the table, trying to make out the dish of the day.

The menu is in the wrong place.

I wander inside, spotting a menu on the table just by the door.

As I do, I’m stopped in my tracks.

“Sorry love. If you’re going to come in here, you’ll need to sign in…”  says a friendly lady with a tray of schooners in one hand, pointing to the COVID register on the table just next to the entrance.

I smile. “Actually, I just want to have a look at the menu?”

“Doesn’t matter love”, she replies, still friendly. “You’re still gonna have to sign in”, and carries on, beers, and all.

I look at the table, back at the menu, back at the table, and make the decision to leave.

I wasn’t in a huff or leaving out of protest. I understand and accepted the need to register.

It was simply that the process had become too hard.

I wanted to make a buying decision, but the steps involved created friction which ultimately canceled out the energy of my intention, and the process ground to a halt.



In the tech world, understanding the relationship between intention, action, obstacles, and the process is the basis of fine-tuning what’s often known as UX – user experience – and is relevant to everything from onboarding new software users to retaining existing ones.

In the advice space, we usually refer to it as client experience, and it’s just as important when it comes to bringing on new clients as it is from ensuring clients stick with their financial plan over the long term.

The main difference though between the tech world and ours is the degree to which metrics guide decision making and innovation.

When you sign up to use or trial a new app, behind the scenes host of data points – open rates, click-through, login frequency, use of functionality, and a whole bunch of others – are at being used for one clear purpose.

The goal is to ensure your path to prospect to an engaged user to advocate isn’t just guided…

….it’s perfected and fine-tuned until it can be predicted with absolute accuracy, systemised and relied on to plot everything from future growth to the likely ROI of marketing spent.

It’s a mindset as much as it is an approach.

Let’s bring the example back into our world.

The pubs’ menu is your website.

If I can’t find it, that’s the first issue.

For many people, not being able to find a good looking site that confirms that you’re legit, trustworthy and established is the equivalent of a restaurant without a menu.

This is why having your website at the top of the search page when I type your business name matters.

If I can’t find the information I need – who you work with, what type of advice you give or whatever specific thing I’m seeking (“We solve these problems for these kinds of people“), and instead find a wall of financial jargon and messaging telling me how awesome you are, I’m probably out of there quick-sticks.

In website terms, this is called your bounce rate.

Let’s say I do find what I’m looking for, and I reach out (aka walk-in).

Often what happens in many cases is you send me a questionnaire (short or long, it makes no difference) that I have to complete first.

I want to have a conversation with you (aka check out your menu). Instead, I get asked for paperwork.

Now, I know many of you don’t do this, but I also know many do.

If you’ve got prospects coming to you who have already made the decision that you’re the person (maybe because they’re referred by friends and they’re ready to make the call), then the request for data probably isn’t as much of an issue.

In truth, they’re probably further down the decision path than most.

Sure, if you’ve got prospects coming to you who have already made the decision that you’re the person (maybe because they’re referred by friends and they’re ready to make the call), then that’ll work.

Some of you might say that you only work with clients who are willing to give you the information…

….but what if not every client is at that stage.

Some of you might stay that it’s a way of testing whether the lead is serious enough…

….but does “willing to fill in a questionnaire” really equal “serious”?

What if I want to understand what’s on offer, get a feel for you, and connect a little with what you do, with you?

I may be your perfect client, but that “fill-this-in” barrier and the requirement that we start by talking about my information first instead of my situation… it stopped us from ever finding out.


How to engage prospects is something many of us will have different views on, but we could probably agree on one thing.

We all want the path for the right clients to engage to be as simple as possible.

Which is why sometimes exploring what might be getting in the way of that – using critical thinking and data to diagnose the truth – is rarely going to be anything but a good exercise.

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