Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Essential marketing questions: No. 1 of 5

Here are five essential marketing questions to ask yourself. The answers will transform your marketing strategy and results. We begin with…


There is an ocean of choices out there.

People have too many choices. For you to market effectively, you must understand why they are looking, what they’re looking for and where they’re looking. It’s the foundation.

When you start with this marketing question, you allow yourself to step away from “here’s what we do” or “come buy these products from us.” Begin to look from your audiences’ point of view. Think about how you, personally, search for products or services. Consider that process … and how it has changed in the last few years.

You’ll soon realize … it’s not about what you offer. It’s about the people you’re trying to reach … and how and where THEY are looking. 

Ah ha!

That’s when you’re ready to transform your marketing from “here’s what we offer, come buy from us” to “what do you need and how can we help?”

What other marketing questions fall out of this first inquiry?

Important ones. The answers are essential to your success.

One. Who is the “someone”?

This is the audience you must reach–the people who are looking for what you offer.

Who are they? What generation do they belong to? What do they expect? What is their reason to look for what you sell? What do they (not you) think about your category, product or service … are there existing perceptions or mis-perceptions? What’s that person’s role in a purchase? Is there someone else who will refer, guide, recommend or be involved in a decision?

The more you know about your audiences, the more targeted you can be. You will be more effective at inspiring response from the people who are already looking for what you offer!

Two. What do you offer? Really?

It’s easy to make a list of products or services. To talk about “quality” or “service.” But really, is that what people are buying?

marketing_questions_drillDig deeper into the reasons they buy, and the reasons your best customers or clients buy from you again and again. Spend some time with this. Ask your most loyal buyers why they choose you.

Then look at the “trigger” for that search. What’s the reason they’re looking for what you offer? There may be lots of different reasons, choose the most common.

When you present your products and services to match up with their reasons to buy, you’re miles ahead of the rest. They will be more likely to choose you.

Three. Critical–where are they looking?

This is the crux of your decision about where to invest your marketing dollars. The answers will vary depending on your business and industry and how your audiences buy.

Yet it’s the answers to this marketing question that will also guide whether you spend time on a social media strategy; focus on inbound marketing; place ads in newspapers; attend trade shows; consider a new sign; or turn your service fleet into free billboards.

The reality is … 85% of American adults are online. 88% of internet users conduct research online. On average, consumers today look at more than 16 sources of information before they contact anyone about a purchase. In the business to business world, a buyer is more than 60% to a purchase decision before they contact a vendor.

Thus, tuning your website to be found when someone is searching is the most important thing you can do for your marketing strategy. And once you’re found … give them what they’re looking for. Today, your website is the heart of your marketing, an essential, 24/7 “point of choice.”

These marketing questions will help you reframe your strategy for today’s audiences–who they are and how they buy. When you’re helping and not selling, delivering what people are looking for (so they view you as the resource and solution), you’ll boost your business.

I’ll continue this series in the next blog post, four more essential questions to go! Meanwhile, here are a few other resources for you.

Your quick links to these essential marketing questions:

1. If someone is looking for what you offer, where are they looking?

2. If they find you, what will they see? 

3. Will you stand out in 3?

4. Can they quickly see “what’s in it for me?”

5. Is it easy to choose?

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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