Single Most Important Question (SMIQ) survey marketing is something I first heard about from an episode of the Smart Passive Income podcast. This particular podcast episode featured SMIQ concept creator Ryan Levesque. I should probably qualify that and say that Ryan introduced me to the SMIQ concept in his book The Ask Formula. Whether or not he actually created this concept, I’m not entirely sure. At any rate, the SMIQ survey marketing is pretty amazing. Here are some key things SMIQ survey marketing can do.

  • Help you discover what your clients and prospects really need and want!
  • Clients and prospects will provide responses that you can use to write sales & marketing copy.
  • It will help you build and maintain rapport with clients & prospects.

Here’s how it works at a high level.

  1. You send an email to your list, which includes your SMIQ (see my example below).
  2. You record responses in a spreadsheet (sample below).
  3. Then you analyze responses, focusing first on the lengthiest ones.
  4. Optionally, you dive deeper with a follow-up question (see my example below).
  5. You create products and services, based on what your response data tells you.
  6. You create sales & marketing copy based on your survey responses.

I used an SMIQ survey in a marketing research project for my latest business idea, and saw a response rate of over 50%. I’ve also doubled my list in the process (more on this in a minute). I’m about to create a list of potential needs, which will lead to product ideas for my audience.

Here’s what a SMIQ should look like.

What is your #1 biggest challenge today with [Insert Problem Here]?

That’s it! The important simplicity of the SMIQ is that it’s completely open-ended, which is exactly what you want and what will drive the most insightful responses you could possibly hope for.

Here’s the exact email I used for my latest project.

Hey Steve,

Hope this email finds you well.

I’m writing to ask a big favor. I’m working on a project for musicians. The big idea is to create an online community for musicians of all types and genres. What I envision is a place where musicians can find resources, education and support to help them better market and more freely create their music.

On a side note, I’m emailing you via my email marketing service provider. I decided to do this, because you’re part of a big list of my musician friends. I hope that doesn’t feel too impersonal. What can I say? I love saving time.

While I’ve already put quite a bit of time and thought into this project, I’ve taken a step back to go through a product/idea validation exercise. This is where you come in. I was hoping you could take a couple of minutes to answer a question. Here it is.

What’s your #1 biggest challenge as a musician when it comes to getting the gigs you want and/or getting your music or band seen and heard?

Your help would mean the world to me, but I totally understand if you don’t have time or challenges to share. I still appreciate you. Especially if you read this far. ?


You probably noted my voice in the the email. It’s intentionally casual and friendly. It also reads like it could have been written on and sent from my phone, other than the fact that it’s a bit lengthy. By the way, I also sent Facebook direct-messages, using the same verbiage. I found my people in Facebook groups for musicians. Although I haven’t compiled the numbers, my response rate was really good with Facebook.

Here’s a snapshot of the spreadsheet I used to record responses. I blurred respondent names for privacy reasons.

Snapshot of Google Sheet used to capture and analyze my SMIQ survey response data

And here are a couple of the deep dive follow-up questions I used.

Can you tell me a bit more about the “dread” you mentioned? I’d also be interested to know more about that cover letter you sent out.

You shared with me that your biggest challenge has been getting your music licensed for film, TV and commercials. My follow up request is, can you tell me about a time that you experienced this particular challenge?

My sample follow-up questions are missing the context of the full emails in which they were sent, but you still hopefully get the gist of them.  They’re both simple and open ended, just like my original SMIQ.  The project I used this SMIQ approach with is a market research project to validate a business idea.  The impact that my survey had was huge.  The responses I got told me lots of stuff I was trying to validate and lots of stuff I didn’t anticipate.  Well, I did anticipate that there was stuff I wouldn’t anticipate.  🙂

SMIQ survey marketing is not only pretty amazing; it’s one of the most important marketing concepts that everyone should be acquainted with.  I’m sharing the concept with you at a really high-level, and my application of the process was a very simple one.  If you wanna really geek out on it, pick up a copy of The Ask Formula, by Ryan Levesque.

If you just wanna know more about how I put the SMIQ survey marketing principles into practice, leave a comment below or DM me on Twitter (@morningtempo).