What Do You Know About Your Customers?

customer surveys

customer surveys

Effective small business marketing relies on a sound knowledge of your customers (current and potential).  Survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey, can help you gain the necessary knowledge about your customers.

To be effective, small business marketing must be targeted and this requires a deep knowledge of your customers.  For example, with LinkedIn Ads you can target job title, organization or professional group.  With Facebook Ads, you can target your advertising based on gender, age and interests of your customers.

How well do you know your customers?

What do you know about your customers’ typical characteristics?  Have you any idea of the demographics of your customers, their preferences or their typical behaviour in different situations?

The following topics might give you some idea of what information you could gain about your customers (current and potential):

  • gender
  • age grouping (e.g. Generation X orY, Baby Boomers?)
  • interests (hobbies, sports. films)
  • where they find their entertainment
  • whether they work from home or in an office
  • how they use their mobile phone
  • where they live (city, country, local or global)
  • what they are willing to spend their money on
  • how they behave in different economic conditions (e.g. in a recession)
  • what kinds of presents they buy
  • close relationships – married/ de-facto, family size, same sex couples
  • how they spend their holiday time
  • where they converse on the web via social media.

If you lack information about your customers, your small business marketing activity will be untargeted and costly.  However, one way to overcome this lack of information is to survey your customers (current and potential).

Survey your customers with SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey is a dedicated online survey service that is free for stated levels of service.  At present, the SurveyMonkey service is free where you are using no more than 10 questions per survey and receiving no more than 100 responses per survey.   When you work on a likely response rate in the vicinity of 10-30%, then this is a generous offer.

Even at this basic free level, SurveyMonkey enables you to design a web-based survey with an introduction explaining the survey purpose and different types of questions, e.g.  fixed response or open-ended questions.  It is super easy to use and you can very quickly design a survey that will increase your knowledge of your customers.

The basic level service of SurveyMonkey enables information collection via a weblink, email or Twitter; through a website pop-up; through embedding the survey on your website; or by placing the survey on your Facebook page.

SurveyMonkey will collate your results and give you access to the responses online.  At the free level of service, you will receive some basic analysis of results but you need to upgrade to get more sophisticated summaries and analysis (e.g. charts such as bar chart or pie chart).  However, for small business marketing you can often get by with the basic analysis of results.

Here’s an example of the analysis of results for a simple ‘work type’ question that I used to survey a group of readers of my e-Learning Blog:

SurveyMonkey survey results

Other questions in my survey on SurveyMonkey covered the frequency of access to the blog, how the information on the blog was used and suggestions for changes.   This was a blog that I was contracted to write for the Queensland Department of Education over an 18 month period, so I needed to know the relative make-up of my audience, how the blog was being used and what improvements I could make in the information provided. 

Your potential survey activity is limited only by your imagination and your willingness to find out more about your customers.  Earlier this year, when my joint venture partners and I were developing Wizzley.com, a community for online writers, I used SurveyMonkey to find out the ‘article categories’ that members of my mailing list would like to see included.  This helped us to round out the more than 3,000 categories for articles for our site.  So through the survey, we basically established what topics my current email subscribers would like to write about on our new site for social networking and article writing.

Effective small business marketing requires a deep understanding of your customers and tools like SurveyMonkey help you to gain the requisite knowledge to achieve target marketing in a cost effective way.

Company Status Updates on LinkedIn: A Boost for Small Business Marketing

Merit Solutions Australia


On the 6th October 2011, LinkedIn introduced Company Status Updates for Company Pages that were launched about a year ago.  LinkedIn Status Updates provide a new, powerful avenue for small business marketing online as LinkedIn is the largest online professional network in the world with over 120 Million members. 

This new status feature gives further access by small businesses to a professional network of people who are affluent, highly educated and influential in terms of purchasing decisions.  LinkedIn is ranked 12th by Alexa.com in terms of global traffic to the site and has a Google Page Rank of 9 (out of 10).

As illustrated in the image above, Company Status Updates provide the facility to attach a URL (web page address) which automatically displays a related image and “page description” drawn from the target website.   Readers can easily “Like” the update, comment on it or share it with their social networks (thus making the status entry viral).

Company Status Updates on LinkedIn enable small business owners to develop their brand by sharing news, videos, podcasts, articles, blog posts, available jobs and product launches.

LinkedIn is a rapidly growing network and this new feature will provide a real boost for marketing small businesses online.

Small Business Marketing: A Personal Odyssey

Human Resource Consultancy

Our small business was created in 1996 and following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008, we found that we had to become actively engaged in online small business marketing.

Up until the GFC, our gross income had been growing at around 20% per year and we did not have to actively market our small business.  Most business arrived by word of mouth through the professional services provided by our HR consultants.

However, with the GFC, our business income dropped by 50% in six months.  So we had to look at ways to improve the income from our small business.

We decided to do three core things:

  1. expand our service offerings (e.g. include training)
  2. broaden our client base
  3. actively engage in online marketing for our small business


In 2010, we engaged Anne Corcino to redesign our static website into a dynamic WordPress website.  Anne’s website services are offered through her small business, SEO Praxis.

The new website design became a real platform for our online small business marketing.  Our HR consultants were proud of our site and our clients were suitably impressed.  Because the site was built on a WordPress platform, it has SEO embedded and is easy to update and add value.  Our RSS feed from the blog is an important aspect of our marketing.

What I will report here is my own experiences and ideas in marketing our small business.  So this blog is very much my small business odyssey – my journey into the challenges of small business marketing.