Six questions that propel your new marketing strategy

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My major consulting activity is helping companies develop their new marketing strategy. I find that customers usually have most of the information they need to know how to compete, they just need me to provide a few prompts to help bring the insights to the surface.

Here are a few of the key questions I ask to help customers focus on their approach to a new marketing strategy. Every company and industry is different, but these are the questions that seem to help most of the time.

1) What customer problem do we uniquely solve?

This is a deceptively complex question that gets to the heart of a new marketing strategy.

Great marketers find promising un-met or under-served customer needs and then energize the company to react to this opportunity rapidly and effectively.

Competitive advantage occurs through this magical combination of an undefended opportunity + timing. Is there a trend that fits our capabilities? Is the timing right for us to devote all our energy to a new customer solution?

If the answer is “yes,” we burst through that seam with all our might, power, and speed.

A big problem is that companies often confuse what they sell with what a customer buys. For example, one company I worked with prided themselves on being a tech leader and their marketing message reflected that. But when I interviewed customers, they could care less about the tech. They loved this company because of its responsive service. They were buying something different than what the company thought they were selling!

Marketing begins with research and data. You need to accurately know your place in the eco-system and your best opportunities to compete.

2) Who is your customer?

This is an extremely important question, especially in a rapidly-changing business landscape.

If you thought you knew your customer well, it’s time to re-evaluate in the context of this global, multi-dimensional turbulence. So much is changing.

For example, in a recent podcast episode, Brooke Sellas and I discussed how children are playing a bigger role in eCommerce decisions. What an interesting trend!

Who is making the decision to buy? How are they deciding to buy? How is that changing? Is your true customer the same as it was a year ago?

3) Where are those customers?

In Chapter 9 of my book Marketing Rebellion, I introduced this important idea of “customer islands.” I also wrote a blog post about this that you might find useful.

Today, like-minded individuals have the ability to assemble in many ways and in many places. It might be a Facebook Group, a thread they visit on reddit, an industry site, or a Twitter chat. Perhaps they’re watching a certain television show or flock to a podcast, blog or Instagram account.

Sometimes, a new marketing strategy is heavily influenced by the idea of fishing where the fish are. Instead of forcing marketing communications on our customers, how do we come alongside them in the places they frequent as an organic part of their lives?

In the early days of digital marketing, there was an emphasis on dragging customers to our site and our messages. Today, it makes more sense to show up where they already love to spend their time.

If we know where customers congregate, we’ll know how to reach them.

4) What makes us relevant?

I once had a chance to work with Sergio Zyman, the former CMO of Coca Cola. Somebody asked him, “how many marketing strategies do you need?” His answer was, “How many customers do you have?”

His point was that we need to segment and fight for relevance as granularly as our resources allow.

Chances are, people buy our products for different reasons. An entrepreneur leading a startup might like your price. A purchasing manager at a larger company might appreciate that your company has great service. An enterprise customer likes the fact that you’ve been around for 20 years — stability is important.

Having a sense of these needs enables us to establish relevance audience by audience. And by the way, this is something that needs to be constantly revisited, especially in an era of crisis.

5) How do we effectively communicate our relevance?

Ironically, we now get to the step in our marketing journey where most people START!

Only now do we have enough information to begin to think about the creative, influencers, ads, content, and social media.

I’ve been in marketing a long time and can say with authority that this step has never been more difficult. The overwhelming information choices people have today makes establishing a meaningful connection extremely hard to achieve.

I would also say this is also the step where most people are failing. Too often when it comes to a social media or content strategy we are simply checking a box, or following a guru without rolling up our sleeves and doing the difficult creative work demanded by our times.

And more often than not, corporate communication efforts are not the most effective way to tell a story as trust in companies and advertising declines. Today, the customer is the most effective marketer. How do we earn the right to enter their narrative?

Hard work.

6) How do we measure and continuously adjust?

If you’ve followed me for any time at all, you’ll know I’m a stickler for data and analysis “beyond the dashboard.”

Marketing is the glue that connects customers to every part of our organization. We have to be the experts on our marketplace and that means constant conversation. Are you really having conversations or simply looking at pie charts?

Are you engaging with customers in a way that informs your marketing strategy or are you ignoring the critical comments behind a social media sentiment analysis?

Are you using robust statistical analysis in your work or “eyeballing” the data? This is where the strategic advantage probably lies. Everybody probably has access to the same data. How do you distill unique insight from the data?

I hope this thought process helps. If you’re struggling with your marketing strategy, it might be an opportunity for us to work together. A good place to start is a one-hour consultation ( you can sign up here).

I appreciate you and the time you took out of your day to read this! You can find more articles like this from me on the top-rated {grow} blog and while you’re there, take a look at my Marketing Companion podcast and my keynote speaking page. For news and insights find me on Twitter at @markwschaefer and to see what I do when I’m not working, follow me on Instagram.

Originally published at https://businessesgrow.com on September 21, 2020.

Written by

Chieftain of the blog {grow}, strategy consultant, educator, podcaster, author of Return On Influence, The Content Code, and The Tao of Twitter.

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