Want Better Marketing Outcomes? Ask the Right Questions!

by Sonja van den Bosch

Want Better Marketing Outcomes? Ask the Right Questions!

Earlier this week, I was having a conversation around marketing with a couple of business owners. The questions kept coming: Should I change our branding? Update our website? Do a social media campaign? Use SEO? Invest in Google AdWords? Remarketing? Start doing PR? Redesign our brochure? Go to a tradeshow? etc. etc. etc.

Although these are all very valid questions, it is interesting that 99% of marketing conversations seem to start off at this marketing activities level and often seem to stay at this tactical level. The missing piece of the puzzle is…the overall picture, the strategic level! That is, what has the business set out to achieve? The focus is completely on the WHAT and the WHY is completely being ignored.

How do we bring this up to the strategic level?

By asking really good questions and being completely open to the answers and possibilities. That’s one of things I so love about the work we do. It is our job to ask the best questions and elevate conversations from the tactical level to the strategic level, without our clients feeling overwhelmed or lost. In this way we can make an educated decision on whether an activity is right or not, rather than being led by ‘what everyone else is doing’ or ‘what is hot at the moment’.

When we start asking questions, we are seeking to learn. We are looking for the true reasons behind something, which allows us to gain knowledge before making a decision. It can also be an exceptionally powerful and productive method for evolving and improving an idea.

Here are the 5 questions I always ask to figure out whether a marketing activity is worth pursuing or not. These provide a useful filter to assist in determining the suitability of an activity.

Q 1: WHY do you want to do this? What do you want to achieve?

“Why” is the ultimate clarifying question. It demands explanation, context and support. It leaves no room for waffling. When we start asking why, we adopt a more strategic mindset and we’re able to determine if we’re on the right track. Put simply, is this activity in line with and likely to produce results that will assist with achieving the business goals? If not, question if it’s truly the right activity right now.

Q 2: Who is it for? Who is your target market and your ideal client?

Ideally you will have defined your target and ideal client very clearly.  This question alone will prompt you to do this and is all about being relevant to your target instead of doing something that you think might work.  This means understanding their needs and communicating who you are, what you do and most importantly why should someone choose you (i.e. your point of difference).  Asking this question about every activity helps ensure that they are aligned and are selected with reach of your target market and ideal client firmly in your sights.

Q 3: How are we going to measure the results?

“What gets measured gets done”.  This is a great premise and means understanding the outcomes we are looking for from the activity and setting realistic and specific targets. This could be anything from X new customers, client retention X%, increasing value from existing customers x%, X more referrals, cost savings, getting into a new market, building brand awareness, setting up xx number of partnerships, growing the database by xx% etc. etc.

Q 4: Is there a better way to get the same outcome?

Whether the answer is yes, or no is irrelevant, it opens up the broader thinking and moves the focus from activities to goals and outcomes. When used as part of a planning process that includes all parts of business it can stimulate wonderful creativity and open up possibilities that might otherwise be missed. Another benefit is that all team members are now clear on the outcomes you’re seeking and can contribute in their daily operations. We firmly believe in this collaborative approach.

Q 5: How does this particular activity fit in with other things we are doing? 

The best marketing plans take strategies and develop activities, and then look for where potential synergies may lie to create amplified “noise”.  For example if you decide to run a Social Media campaign around the time of a trade show and direct the target to a page on your website where the message is around this and offers a promotion or incentive for visiting the stand, and this is also sent out via a database campaign.  Once you start taking a more holistic view of your Marketing activities, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how you can start to link and leverage activities more powerfully.

Asking sound marketing questions is well worth the time and effort. It ensures that you don’t waste money and resources and instead invest in marketing activities that are aligned with your business objectives and strategies, with measurable outcomes for success. And it doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming.

For truthful, inspirational and practical strategic marketing guidance, please talk to us and see how we can assist.

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