13 Questions to Answer Before Advertising

Marketing StrategyI get all jazzed up just thinking about marketing strategy. No doubt about it. In fact, there’s no better way to kick-start my workday than to craft a strategy for a new client.

But I suspect that most small business owners don’t share my strategy addiction. Rather, they prefer to focus on advertising tactics. Here’s why:

  • Tactics are tangible. You drop a coin into the machine and… voila!, out pops a gum ball. And just like our craving for fast food, concentrating on advertising tactics feeds our desire for instant gratification.
  • Tactics are cool and sexy. Can you say social media? Googling the phrase, “social media” returns more than 10 times the number of results than the phrase “marketing strategy,” and more than eight times the number of results than the search term, “Paris Hilton.” (Sorry, Paris. I’m afraid you’re not as popular as you think you are.)
  • Tactics are in your face. Media sales reps constantly ambush the business owner; announcing that their medium reaches the “exact audience” the business owner happens to be targeting. There’s simply no escape.

Strategy before tactics

At the heart of every successful ad campaign lies a powerful strategy – a focal point or axis around which all else revolves. In other words, marketing strategy always comes before tactics. Always.

Think Apple’s success is due entirely to creative ad copy and hip television commercials?

Think again. Apple works damn hard to create value by developing innovative products that are easy to use.

Yes, creating a successful ad campaign is a breeze IF you’ve got something powerful to say. And Apple has something powerful to say.

Can you answer these 12 13 questions?

So now that we’ve determined that the success of your advertising campaign is directly related to the strength of your marketing strategy, here are 12 questions that will help you develop a powerful marketing strategy:

1.) What are you trying to make happen? (Hat tip to Mike from Campbell Outdoor Challenge for reminding me about this one.)
2.) How and when will you measure success?
3.) What are you company’s core values?
4.) What unleveraged assets do you own?
5.) What are your company’s limiting factors?
6.) What does your customer care most about?
7.) Are you willing and able to meet this felt need?
8.) Are you targeting relational or transactional customers?
9.) How often does your customer purchase your products or services?
10.) What does your company do better than anyone else?
11.) Where does your company stand relative to the competition?
12.) What segments of the market are you willing to leave behind?
13.) What are you doing to improve the value of your products or services year after year?

Final thoughts

This list of strategic marketing questions is by no means exhaustive. And allow me to be clear: answering these questions will not guarantee a winning strategy. You must also be able to honestly and accurately interpret the results. And truthfully, not all companies have a strategy that will translate into a message worth telling.

That said, you must be able to answer these 12 13 questions if you hope to create a powerful and persuasive marketing strategy for your business. Move on to advertising tactics only after you’ve thoroughly answered each one.

P.S. In future posts, I’ll dive into each of these strategic marketing questions a bit further.

P.S.S. Have a strategic question to add to the list? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

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3 Responses to “13 Questions to Answer Before Advertising”

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  1. Mike says:

    Tom, you left out “what are we trying to make happen?”

    Mike

  2. Tom Wanek says:

    Duh! Thanks, for catching that Mike. That should be the very first question. I'm going to add it to the list.

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