How do I get my business noticed online? How can I create an engaged social media audience? How do I convert website visitors and social media followers into customers? What hashtags should I be using? Are Google ads a good investment?

I'm Sydney Chakalos, a marketing nerd and small business owner with a passion for helping other small business owners grow their business using effective online marketing strategies on any budget.

Learn how to create and implement a marketing strategy that strengthens relationships with your audience and increases your bottom line. We'll cover topics around social media, email, Google ads, branding, and websites. Building your brand is a marathon and I'm here to help you win the race.


welcome to the

Marketing Your Local Business Online Podcast

Social Media



Content Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Marketing

Understand Your Customers Better & Make More Sales

On a scale of 1-10, how well do you know your customers? If your answer isn’t 10, grab a notebook and a pen, because we’re going to get you there. This episode is all about my unique approach to market research and how you can use it to get to know your ideal customer and set your business up for success.


What is market research?

Simply put, market research is learning more about your ideal customer – their wants, needs, goals, pain points, routines, influences – knowing them better than they may even know themselves. Market research goes beyond your marketing strategy by informing how you do business with your customers and how you can serve them better.


What makes my approach unique?

My approach to market research is informed by my background in design thinking from the UVA Darden School of Business. By way of design thinking, I approach market research as a human centered design process all about understanding our people and solving their problems, not just putting bandaids on them. Design thinking works in four stages, starting with analyzing the “what is” then asking “what if”, answering “what wows” and lastly answering “what works” and reassessing what you’re doing. Today we’re going to dive into the nitty gritty of the first stage, “what is.” If you’re curious about design thinking I highly recommend checking out Professor Jeanne Liedtka who is the design thinking queen that taught me everything I know about design thinking.


Using the “what is” approach for market research

To conduct effective market research first, you want to figure out what is going on inside your customer’s mind and understand their journey. Check out last week’s episode for a refresher on this. Next, write down your assessment of the following: what is the current state of your business? What are your customers going through? What is going on in your industry? What is an area of opportunity that your business can help people? Your answers here will help you brainstorm the questions you want to ask in your market research. 

Next, identify 5-10 people to have a conversation with for the purposes of market research. Speaking with individuals is really valuable when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of the thoughts and challenges of your ideal customer. Asking someone who could fit the profile of a potential customer for 15 minutes of their time will help you immensely in the long run. 

Now, we can start creating our questions to ask in market research conversations. You do not need to stick to a strict script for these conversations, but you want to be asking the same questions in order to get baseline information for each area you’re wanting to learn more about. Your goal here is to understand your customer’s pain points and what might be needed to address these pain points. 

It is important to keep in mind that we are conducting these interviews to understand and empathize with our customers. When we’re able to step into their shoes from a marketing perspective, it helps us to shape our messaging and marketing that much better. 


Best Practices

  • Keep your questions open ended. 
  • Pay attention to the way you ask questions – you don’t want the way you frame a question to impact the way it is answered. 
  • Keep your language as neutral as possible, and stick to asking factual questions for which there are straightforward answers. 
  • Ask follow up questions! “Can you elaborate more on that?” or “Can you tell me why you said this?” are great options
  • Record your conversations so you can go back and listen later. Your best marketing language comes from your customers, so pay attention to the words they use.

We covered A LOT of ground today, but please trust me when I say market research is essential to the success of your business. If you found value in today’s episode, please leave a 5-star review and share it with a friend (or two!) I’m so humbled you chose to spend your time with me today and I can’t wait to be back here with you again next week. Keep running your race. 


meet sydney

Strategist. coach. educator.

get to know me

Hi friends! My name is Sydney, founder of Marathon Marketing & Branding, and I’m so happy you’re here! As you might have guessed, I am an avid runner, which allows me to have more of that pinot and pasta in life. Running long-distance is all about training, endurance, and consistency. I realized that these same traits are directly applicable to social media marketing as well.