Apr 19, 2012

Marketing is about asking the right questions

I work with a lot of start ups and small companies and often I get asked for the quick fix: "We just need to find the right blogger", "we just need to get mentioned in NYTimes", "we should be on Facebook", "we just need a Rolodex for referrals to get our first customers". Well, this might work, but it is neither a sustainable nor repeatable strategy to launch and grow a business. Actually, it is like playing the lottery, you might win, but most likely you won’t.

Every business is different and a key part of launching/growing your business is to find what works and develop a scalable model - and it all starts with asking the right questions. When I sit with my clients, they are very appreciative about the questions I ask:
  • Audience: Do you really understand your audience? Their needs and behavior? Their daily challenges?
  • Value: How do your products/services address those needs and solve the challenges? What value do they provide? (not features!)
  • Objectives: What are your business objectives - in numbers? Can you actually measure those? (Note: You can only manage what you measure!)
  • Strategy: What’s your (go-to-market) marketing strategy? Is it aligned with your business objectives? Is the whole team aligned around this strategy?
  • Story: Do you have a compelling story that sells? Why should customers buy your offering versus the competition? What’s your elevator pitch?
  • Plan: Do you have a plan in place to execute your strategy? Is it aligned with your business strategy? Does your team know and understand the plan? Is it realistic based on your available resources?
  • Success metrics: How to do you measure success? What are the key metrics that drive your business? Do you know them on top of your head?
Some of the questions might look so obvious, but I often experience that they don’t get the right attention and focus. The above questions help executives better understand the needs of their audience, refine their offering, deliver customer value and create a compelling message – and this is what successful marketing is all about.