Using Surveys to Understand Your Customers

In a previous post, we talked about figuring out who your target market is before you start advertising. Brainstorming and doing market research are key to determining who your potential customers are.

But another key part of figuring out your target market is understanding your current customers - the ones who have already bought your product, who trust it, who have experience with it, and who are the experts when it comes to how you should market it (does this surprise you? Read on!).

It’s important to brainstorm and hypothesize about who your ideal customer is. It’s just as important though to talk to your current customers, and figure out what made them buy, what you could be doing better, and what would potentially make them buy again.

Questions You Can Ask

Following are some questions you should consider asking your current customers or clients. You’ve already won their business, so who better to ask how you should market your product to others?

Ask them about themselves

When determining your target market, it’s important to consider demographics, geographics, and psychographics (that’s a lot of ‘graphics’!). Before you ask anything about their needs, desires or motivations, it’s important to get their basic data: Where do they live? Where do they work? What’s their marital status? Do they have kids? What are their hobbies? What’s important to them?

Ask them why they bought your product or service

This is where you get to find out the motivation behind their decision to buy your product or service. This may require some heavy-duty thinking on their part, but if you can get them to make the effort to think about why they bought from you, coming up with your marketing strategy just got a lot easier.

What situation or life-circumstance led to them buying your product? Why did they choose your product over your competitor’s? What factors were important to them in their purchasing decision? What challenges did they face in the decision-making process? What motivated them to buy the product in the first place?

Ask them about their experience with your product or service, and their current needs

This is where you get to find out how you can improve (criticism is  a good thing, really!). By figuring out what your customers are looking for right now, you actually get some insight into how you can market to them now. Maybe this means changing how you market to your existing customers, or maybe it even means creating a new product to fit the needs of your (already loyal and satisfied) customers.

How has our product or service solved a problem for you? How is the quality of our product? Have you been satisfied with the level of customer service you’ve received? What could we be doing better? What would motivate you to buy from us again? What product or service would you like us to provide?


Customer surveys provide a wealth of information for business owners and marketers, and yet somehow we often forget to make the effort. We spend so much time envisioning our ‘ideal customer’ that we forget to talk to the ones we already have.

In a future post, I’d love to cover specific tools business owners and marketers can use to survey their customers. If you have a favorite, please tell me in the comments below!

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Photo Credit: Jeroen Van Oostrom

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