Marketing without the millions—Why gaining insights from your customers is golden

As a start-up or small business you don’t always have the luxury of a large budget, a market research company or a team of marketing professionals to get your company in front of new customers. But there are some smart things you can do with the customers you have.

Do your research

If you want to attract more of your ideal type of customer and more business from your current customers, don’t be afraid to ask what your customers think. Start calling them for market intelligence.

Ask your customers:

  • How did they originally find out about you?
  • What problem are you solving for them? What prompted them to get in touch with you?
  • When did they start looking for solutions? And when did they buy?
  • Where did they look for help? What other solutions and solution providers were there?
  • Why did they buy products or services from you? Why did they stay?

You might be surprised how much information your customers provide. Their answers will help determine where you should focus your marketing budget, such as through print or online advertising, events or connections. They can tell you what messaging (the phrases or words used in promotional material) will get the attention of prospective customers, the best time to promote yourself and how long it takes customers to buy once they have a problem (the buying cycle). Your existing customers can also tell you who your competitors are and how they compare to you, and what customers perceive your points of differentiation to be (how you are better than the competitors).

Expand your business with existing customers

To find out if there are more business opportunities with your current customers, ask them:

  • Do they have any suggestions for improvements to your current products and services? Or recommendations for additional products and services?
  • Would they mind if you prepared a testimonial based on their feedback, to be checked, edited and signed off by them?
  • Do they have any contacts who would also benefit from your services that they could introduce you to?
  • How would they prefer to be kept up-to-date with your new products and services? By phone, sales visits or social media?

Develop a strategy

By now you should have enough information to form the basis of a very simple marketing strategy and a plan to attract new customers. Start by reviewing:

Products or services

What traits of your products or services are important to customers? How can you develop your offering?


How do you compare to the rest of the market? Do your represent value for money? Does the price need to change?


Where should you be offering your products and services? How should you be delivering them?


Where and how can you spend your marketing budget for biggest impact?

Never underestimate the power of calling even a handful of your current customers to get the insights that could be the key to growing your business.