Catharine O’Leary: Strengthening Customer Relationships with Quizzes

Catharine O'Leary

“Nothing is more valuable in a business than the voice of the customer,” says Catharine O’Leary. She believes finding the ideal client is vital and that only happens by listening to the customer. This will create better communication between you and the client, new product development, and better long-term relationships with your audience.

Catharine is a consumer insights expert with 25 years of experience working with Fortune 100 companies. Because of her experience in questionnaire development, Catharine launched S.M.A.R.T. Quiz Solutions, a formula which helps entrepreneurs grow subscriber lists and turn future clients into forever customers. She tells The Business Woman Today more about her quizzes, the lead generation industry, and details the thought process behind launching S.M.A.R.T. Quiz Solutions.

“I think the biggest lesson I’ve seen companies learn the hard way is that keeping in touch with your ideal clients is critical to business success. It’s simply not enough anymore to be the best “widget” out there.”

Why is listening to the audience/client so important? 

Your clients are the best source of marketing intelligence that you can tap into. They know their challenges, fears, and frustrations better than anyone. They are also able to articulate those challenges in ways that make sense to them. A lot of creative executives or marketing gurus make the mistake of getting so clever and creative that clients get confused. Stop and ask your clients what problem they are solving in their own words. Don’t guess what they want to hear and start to listen to what they are saying. Your messages will always be on point and your offers will convert better if you talk to your clients in their own language.

How has client engagement changed over the years with new technology?

Client engagement has gotten both easier and harder with technology. Easier because now you can reach a global audience with a touch of a button. Harder because it’s that much more difficult to break through the noise and grab the attention of the ideal client. Our attention spans are approximately 7 seconds. To put that into context, goldfish have an attention span of 8 seconds! That means that standing out from the crowd is much more difficult now than ever before. Getting clients to stop for a second and listen is difficult but it can be done in an authentic and fun way!

Describe an ideal client? What shapes an ideal client?

An ideal client is someone who you connect with and enjoy working with. Someone who knows the value of your offer and services and is willing to do the work to be successful. Whether that’s implementing a new training programme, a new coaching experience, or a new lead generation system. For me, it’s having people willing to think outside the box of how they frame the problem they solve so they can attract the clients they want and build long term client relationships.

As a consumer insights expert with 25 years of experience working with Fortune 100 companies across the globe, what is an experience that stands out? What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned? 

There are so many experiences! I love to work with smart people around the world and help businesses succeed. I’ve been lucky to do that in my corporate life and continue to do so in my own business.

I think the biggest lesson I’ve seen companies learn the hard way is that keeping in touch with your ideal clients is critical to business success. It’s simply not enough anymore to be the best “widget” out there. Products and services need to answer a need or help a client with a challenge. Businesses that continually ask and evolve their understanding of their ideal client, whether they are a solopreneur or have 60,000 employees, tend to be the most successful. That client feedback loop should never stop. If it does, you stand to lose touch with your client base and that can lead to disastrous decisions. The “good ole days” of if we build it they will come are far behind us now. I’ve seen a few corporate giants fall because they lost sight of the clients’ needs and focused instead on the next best widget.

How and why did you come up with using quizzes to engage clients? What was the inspiration and thought process behind this idea? 

In my case necessity was the mother of invention! When I started my first online business, I was ready to take on the world! I soon learned I was woefully unprepared and honestly not very good at generating quality leads for my business without breaking the bank. I was always scrambling for any lead connections, which as you can imagine tended not to be my ideal client, and I was continually frustrated! I turned on my analytical brain to figure out how to attract quality leads engagingly and innovatively, which was cost-effective. I realised that what I was lacking in my business was my connection to my ideal client. I wasn’t asking any questions! So I started to investigate different lead magnets and found that a lot of them are very static. 

There tends to be no dialogue between the client and the business with a PDF download or a checklist. Those lead magnets are great but they don’t provide the experience I wanted my clients to have. I wanted to go further and create a way for my ideal clients to engage with me in a fun way in hopes that it’d also give them some insight into their business and how I could help them. That’s when I realised that a quiz could engage my ideal client and deliver a client experience that builds authority, trust and respect for my business. I realised I’ve been asking clients questions my whole career so this was an extension of my corporate expertise to my own entrepreneurial endeavour.

What is special about S.M.A.R.T. Quiz Solutions? Can you tell us more about it?

When I recognised the power of quizzes for my business it was like winning the lottery. What’s easier for a consumer insights expert than developing a quiz for my business? However, when I started to look at other business quizzes, I found that there was room for improvement in how and when questions were asked. What came easy to me seemed to be a challenge for others. I realised that my corporate experience gave me a unique set of skills on how to not only create my own highly converting quizzes but also a way that I could help other businesses create their quiz client journey.

I founded S.M.A.R.T. Quiz Solutions. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Systematic, Motivating, Authoritative, Rewarding, Trust. The S.M.A.R.T quiz framework focuses on the entire client journey from the first quiz question to the call to action for the next step in the conversation. This framework ensures we stay in the zone of intriguing and interesting, while also educating and entertaining the client at the same time. It’s the ultimate lead magnet for attracting ideal clients and developing trust and respect with clients and engaging them with valuable insights to continue the conversation with your business.

I started consulting directly with businesses to develop their killer quizzes. I also created a 6-week course, The Profitable Quiz Formula, to teach businesses how to create a quiz that would take a potential client on a mini self-discovery journey to an insight they were looking for and an invitation to learn more from the business.

How is the lead generation industry changing?

Systems play a greater role in lead generation than in the past. Having a great CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that manages your communications and funnels for your business is now a necessity for online businesses. I believe the role of privacy is going to be the next hot topic. Third-party data like pixels and tags are going to be less and less effective, which is going to make the ownership of zero party data vital to companies needing to understand their clients at a deeper level. Zero party data is just a fancy term for owning your client’s information. The data that clients volunteer to give you, such as the answers to quiz questions, are owned by the business and can be used to communicate with clients without worrying about a third party. With third party data being less reliable, targeting audiences is going to become harder and the need to own your client’s data is going to play a larger role in running your business.

In your opinion, what makes a great consultant?

A great consultant is a partner to a business. I take my clients’ businesses as seriously as I do my own. I want to help clients make the best decisions they can with any advice or expertise I can lend to them. Helping others succeed and drive business results is my main focus.


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