Research is the best way to start a small business marketing strategy. Specifically, conducting research with your customers will help you learn what they care about, why they buy from you, what problems most affect them and other important issues that affect your marketing strategy.
1. For marketing that matters, find out what your customers really think
By gaining real insight from customers, you avoid the pitfalls of mistaking assumptions for facts. My client TriState Water Works excels at helping customers optimize their sprinkler systems for efficient water use. However, in customer research, we uncovered that customers most value TriState Water Works’ promptness– plenty of convenient appointment times and technicians that show up on time. This insight allowed us to align our marketing campaigns with what customers care about most.
2. Let your customers talk… and talk
For small business marketing purposes, forget multiple-choice questions and rating scales. An unstructured interview is the best way to uncover the hidden gems of insight your customers are just dying to share with you. During interviews, clients for Grady Veterinary Hospital described their relationship with the practice in rich, beautiful ways that inspired us to build a Facebook community that has become incredibly successful.
3. The most valuable insights are the ones that surprise you
Be prepared to learn a lot about your business you didn’t know! Pay attention to the surprising things customers say to you, and ask follow-up questions to learn more. These topics are fuel for marketing brainstorming.
4. Small business marketing research can start, well, small
Market research can seem overwhelming– large companies spend thousands of dollars and hours of effort perfecting their results. But small businesses don’t have those resources. Start small, and you can still gain valuable marketing insights. Interview five of your best customers, and see what you learn.
5. Remember to act on what you learn
Knowledge for knowledge’s sake is a beautiful thing. But not in small business marketing. Start making changes to your marketing immediately– as soon are you learn something great.