Want free marketing advice? Ask your customers

In the world of branding and marketing, your business is no more than what your best customer perceives you to be. If they don’t ‘get’ what you’re doing, no-one will. With this in mind, when it comes to the daunting prospect of promoting your business (especially so if budgets are tight!), the best people to ask are those who already buy in to what you do – your customers.

Innocent, the smoothie people, are a great example. The business started out at a small music festival, where Innocent’s three founders set up a stand and began selling their smoothies. On their stand were two bins for customers to deposit their empty cups – one which read ‘yes’ and the other labelled ‘no’. The question on a sign above the bins: ‘Should we quit our jobs to start selling these smoothies?’. By the end of the day, the ‘yes’ bin was overflowing, and Innocent was born.

Not enough businesses take the time to ask their customers what they want, or how they’d like to be contacted, potentially missing out on some crucial insights on how they’re being perceived. Stuck for the best way to spend reach new customers? Ask your customers which magazines they read, which forums they visit online and whether they use social media or not. It’s truly the best way to gauge where to invest your marketing budget – after all, there’s no point tweeting if your customers aren’t on twitter, and it’s a waste of time bombarding people with e-shots if they hate being contacted in that way. Talk to them honestly about your plans for your business and see what they say; their reactions could well unlock a whole new market for you, or prevent you from investing time and money into something they’re simply not interested in paying for. At Ditto, we're very upfront and open with our plans for the business, and let our customers needs shape our business. And since it's an ongoing journey, I'd love to know what you'd like to see more of from us - what can we do to help make your life easier?

Image credit: Innocent Smoothies