If your business is sliding too close to a mid-season slump, super-charge your marketing strategy by asking your customers three important questions. What you learn from the exercise is sure to give sales a kick and launch your business into a more successful second half. It is all about the information — analytics in online lingo — and what you can learn from your best customers and soon-to-be best customers.

  • Question 1: If you had $100 to spend in this place (store, winery, farmers’ market) what would you buy? In other words engage your customer in some role-playing and discover what products they are truly interested in. Would they select a reserve bottle of wine, a larger purchase of product, a more expensive version of something you already offer? Gaining insight into trends and buying habits offers you the ability to see beyond sales data and learn what customers would actually select given a golden opportunity. If you ask the question of both loyal repeat customers as well as new visitors, the information can show you what new products a repeat customer might enjoy and what a potential new customer is seeking. The information gleaned can help you strategize for future production, inventory and marketing plans.


  • Question 2: If you had a business like this, what would you offer customers like yourself? Do you want to know what customers really think of your business? Put them to the task of thinking like an owner and a customer. How many times have you walked out of a store or restaurant and said to yourself “if I owned that place, I would do…or I would offer…”? When you go shopping or out for entertainment, you have an expectation of what you will do, and see and experience. If your experience does not match your expectations, you are most likely let down and will think twice about choosing that same option again. Do your customers want live music, entertainment for children or products and events important to the entire family? Some direct marketing outlets find success in branching out from one particular product to offering related items and themed events. You can only guess what will work to enhance participation and sales unless you are able to glean information about what your customer likes and dislikes.


  • Question 3: We are thinking of changing some things in the future, do you have any preferences? This question may be a harder sell than the others, because customers will, for the most part, wish to be respectful to you and your sales staff. And the suggestions that may come back to you might feel somewhat rude or harsh, but put them in perspective and learn from the feedback. If you frame the question in a cheerful and respectful manner, asking customers to share this perspective with you, the information can be especially helpful. A customer might not tell you outright that your bathrooms need updating or they wish you would fix the holes in the parking lot, but when asked to participate in a dialogue about change, they will be more likely to open up.

These three questions are not difficult to slip into customer discussions and can offer important insights into buyer habits, interests and trends. You need this type of feedback to see where you are in terms of making more sales, establishing a loyal customer base, exciting new potential buyers and just enjoying more about what you can accomplish. Customers want to share information with you — that is the point of reviews that have become so popular. Keeping the conversation flowing and gaining valuable feedback is the lifeblood of establishing a successful business that knows what customers want now, tomorrow and in the future.
The above information is for educational purposes and should not replace professional business or legal counseling.