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The Key to Marketing

Communication, Development, Strategy

I spend a lot of time reading books and listening to podcasts about business, leadership, and marketing. I also spend a lot of time with my clients, learning more about them, learning about their markets, and their customers. This all boils down to asking great questions.

To learn, we must understand that we have a gap in our knowledge. When we understand the specific gaps we have, we can begin to ask the right questions. To get to the right answers, a series of questions often needs to be asked before arriving at the final answer or what we are looking for. This can take the form of a tree of questions.

To give you some insight into how I learn about my clients and their concerns, here are some of the questions that would be included in our conversation.

What is the total age range of your customers? 24-55

What range makes up the majority of your sales? 35-45

Of this group, what percentage is male, what percentage is female? 60% male, 40% female

What are their top 3 values in order of importance? Quality, service, price

What is their level of education? Almost all are university educated.

What does this group do for a living? Professional services (lawyers, doctors), business owners with 5-15 employees and $2m+ in sales, stay-at-home moms 

This is a small sample of questions, however even these answers give us information about a host of other questions. This tells us the generation(s) the audience is in, from which we can infer other points of information. It tells us the type of language they speak. They value being direct with information rather than “fluff”. This is a well educated group with busy lives that prefer to get to the point. They are willing to spend good money on a product as long as it lives up to the value it professes. There are more answers here from a design perspective, user experience, advertising channels, and more. If the imaginary product/service to this group uses this information and owns a good portion of the market, or is up against poorly marketed competitors, they can create a knockout plan and the content to make things happen. 

The goal here is to call on their values. When you speak to my personal values, you show that you know me and care about me. This makes me feel looked after and I begin to trust you. If I trust you and you show me that you can either solve a problem in my life, or that you’ll make my life better, I am sold and I will write you a cheque. 

This sounds easy, and it can be IF you know the right questions to ask. If the questions are too basic, or aren’t positioned for proper follow up with other questions, you find yourself against a wall in a hurry. In the above illustration, we got into a defined customer segment in 6 questions. I’ve heard way too many people ask the question “Who are your customers?”  and the business owner or manager answering the question gets a sunken look in their face and don’t know how to answer. They have the answers however the question is too broad and the client doesn’t know where to begin. 

Ask better questions to get better answers to do your job better.