You're a CEO or VP of marketing wanting to research the market for your product. You know the questions you want answered. Why not whip up a quick survey using a free on-line tool such as SurveyMonkey.com?
The main problem with this approach is that the questions you want answered frequently aren't the questions you should include in a survey.
For example, what if you want to know how much prospective customers are willing to pay for your product? You could just ask them, "How much would you be willing to pay for a product that does blah blah," and provide them a blank to fill in. You will not get reliable results.
A skilled product manager would formulate the questions differently:
1. Ask negative pricing questions. How much does it cost for the prospective customer not to use your product?
2. Ask a conjoint analysis question. If a customer has to choose among several different pricing/feature packages, which one would he choose?
Pricing is one of many examples of questions you may want answered, but that you must formulate indirectly in a survey to get meaningful results.
Another important factor to consider when drafting a survey: you can typically draw the most important conclusions not from the direct responses to each question in the survey, but from uncovering correlations between the responses to different questions.