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The Best Marketing Question!

I visit with clients and prospects frequently. I go through the Marketing 101 questions. What have you done? What has worked? What hasn’t? Who is your perfect client? What do they like/fear/need/hate? Where is your business and where do you want to go? But there is always one question that I ask when we start talking about options that is the best marketing question ever. Why?

It’s a simple one word question, but it clarifies a lot for you, as a marketer, and the business owner. Why? My favorite example of this is when a current client of mine asked me to build a website. It’s not what I normally do and in all honesty,  atierrademisamores I don’t like doing it. It’s not my strongest skill and I have a lot of talented people that are in my network that I’d rather outsource it to, but he wanted me to do it for him. I said okay, but I have one question. Why? Why do you want a website?

He looked at me like I was crazy. I told him I was serious. If I was going to build him a website, I needed to know why he wanted it. I had to build it to fit his needs. He looked at me and said, “well, everyone has a website and I know I need one.” I explained that I agreed that a website could be an incredible resource, but first, he needs to know why he needs one. What does he expect it to do? It is for information? Is it for revenue? Is it for both? Is he going to post articles regularly? Is it to show videos showcasing his business, or giving advice? Why does he want a website? He said that he never really though that much about it. Then he did.

That is the case with most businesses. They don’t ask why do they want to do what they want to do. They want to advertise. Why? They want a big sign out front. Why? They want high end, glossy marketing pieces to mail out. Why? They want to hire a marketing company or person. Why?

Granted, some will say to generate more revenue. That’s always the main goal of marketing. Whether it’s a sign out front, advertising, a website, or hand outs, there is a general assumption that everything will generate more money. When I get this answer, I go back to the question. Why?

Now some may say that if I don’t know then I shouldn’t be in marketing. All my clients should leave and I should pack up my shop. The only thing is I do know. But unless you get your client thinking about their business and ensure you are on the same page as they are, you will find out that a lot of the times what you do, may not be what they want. Then it’s wasted money on the client’s side and wasted time, and possibly reputation, on the marketer’s side. It’s a lose-lose situation.

If you’re wondering if I built the website for him, the answer is no. He realized what he wanted and why he wanted it. He realized that it was a bigger project than I could do for him. But I did refer him to a person in my network that I knew was good and referred business to me. It was a win-win-win situation.

So whether you own a business and do your own marketing, or your a marketer and work with clients, before you get too far down the planning path, ask that crucial and best marketing question. Why?

Rob Bedell has over 17 years of experience in marketing and advertising. He has built and restructured departments for major media companies. He started his own marketing company and works with owners of small to medium sized businesses. He works with business owners from various industries, from traditional brick and mortar businesses to network marketing business owners.

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