Marketing Planning & Reporting

Small Business Growth: 7 Ways to Ask the Right Questions


When it comes to their small business growth, most people think about advertising, mailshots or getting booked for every conference or trade show available. That’s one way of course.

But did you know there’s a much cheaper way to attract more of your ideal clients?

Just ask

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When talking to my clients I often hear things like “I don’t know where my customers are coming from” or “I never get referrals”. And the only possible response to that is: “Have you asked them?!”

It sounds suspiciously simple; almost too good to be true. But often small business growth really is as simple as asking potential clients for what you want.

There’s a reason why it’s the first rule in advertising copywriting. And there are many ways you and your small business can benefit from it.

Let’s find out how asking the right questions can encourage small business growth!

1. Referrals

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It’s not always easy to ask directly for business. It’s one of these uncomfortable little things we have to deal with when selling our own services or products.

But it works! If you ask existing clients to forward your contact details to friends, family members or colleagues who might need your help, chances are they’ll do so. People love to be helpful, so if they’ve had a positive experience working with you, it’ll be a no brainer for them.

So brace yourself for that second of awkwardness – the payoff it more than worth it!

I have a whole post dedicated to getting referrals for your small business. To learn more, click here to read it!

2. Testimonials

The same applies to reviews: To use positive statements from your customers to attract new business, make sure you have a process in place to ask them for it.

Whether that’s an automated email sent after doing business or asking for feedback at the final meeting of your project; it’s important that you ask. And it’s key to make it as easy as possible for them to submit their feedback.

Find out how to grow your small business with customer reviews.

3. Acquisition

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To measure the results of your marketing efforts, find out where your customers or clients have heard about you; ask them at your first meeting or include it in your e-commerce process.

The results might surprise you. You may assume it was your website, when it fact it was through a networking event or social media. Whatever the response, this can help streamline your marketing and focus on what really works.

Use this discussion with your customers to help you generate a powerful customer flow that gets people clicking through.

4. Call to action

Whether you’re active on social media, a regular blogger, using adverts or newsletters to grow your business – a call to action increases the chance of interaction with your potential client.

As much as a “Check it out!” makes them click the link you’ve posted on Facebook, a question like “What do you think?” or “Do you agree?” encourages people to start a conversation on your latest blog post.

Again, I have a whole post dedicated to getting your Call to Action right. Check it out here!

5. Money

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It’s often hard to communicate when it comes to money. Of all the topics, this is a tricky one to raise. But, as small business owner, there’s no way you can avoid raising the question of costs if you want to seal the deal with a client.

The same goes for talking to suppliers or service providers: There’s no harm in asking for a discount for bulk orders or frequent buyers. What’s the worst that can happen?

If it goes your way, you could make a great saving each month to put back in to your advertising.

6. Networking

Do you have your eyes on a specific client? Why not ask for an introduction by one of your contacts or by the organisers of a networking event you’re both attending?

It’s a great way to meet a person and find out if they want to work with you without feeling impertinent. People expect these conversations at networking events.

And, if you don’t get a chance to fully pitch your business there and then, it’s not a disaster! Meeting at the event gives you a perfect excuse to add the person on LinkedIn and a natural start to any future conversations.

Unsure about networking? Check out my post on why it’s so important to give it a go!

7. Help

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Last but not least, sometimes we simply have to ask for help when stuck on a problem we can’t solve alone. It’s what friends, family, business partners or mentors are for, after all.

In my experience, you are never the only one with that problem, and the solution can be quite simple. If you just ask for it.

When was the last time you asked for something you wanted from your clients or customers?


To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Should You Keep Your Rates a Secret?
How to Get Repeat Business From Existing Customers
6 Things to Consider Before Growing Your Small Business
How to Reach Customers Sooner in their Journey


Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.