Before crafting a huge marketing plan or calling up your graphic designer to make a flyer, I encourage you to consider the following three questions. When small business owners take on marketing and communications themselves, this can sometimes result in a lopsided or rushed effort and therefore lackluster conversions.
Over the years, I've found that asking the following three questions before mapping out and building pieces for any marketing campaign can help the entire team become clear.
And when the campaign is over, you can trace back your results to how you answered these questions.
Ask WHY to sharpen goals.
Too often we consider the "what" before the why. Why are you going with this particular marketing message? Why will your audience respond to this message or call to action? Why should they care? Why are you running this campaign: to build brand awareness, to manage your reputation, to make more sales, to introduce a new product?
Write down the answers to each of these questions before beginning your campaign. You'll be amazed at how these answers sharpen your creative concepts, copywriting, and calls to action.
Ask WHAT IF to achieve breakthroughs and take risks.
When you have a team, you often have a lot of red tape to cut through in order to launch a campaign. So be sure to ask, "What if we tried...XX?" early on in the process. Asking What if? helps the team consider creative risks, bold moves, and confident stances in a marketing message and overall campaign theme. This could also lead to breakthroughs in your brand's evolution or jumpstart a movement. An example of a great "What if?" campaign strategy was REI's #GoOutside campaign in late 2016. The company took a bold advertising risk and encouraged people to go outside on Black Friday instead of shopping at their stores...in fact, they closed on Black Friday and gave their employees the day off. The campaign went viral, generating tons of sales (before and after Black Friday, of course).
Ask WHAT ELSE to create a more comprehensive campaign and stretch your existing assets.
You don't always have to invent the wheel. Sometimes just being more comprehensive, piecemeal or taking a "story chapter" approach in campaigns can ensure your audience is well-informed while being entertained at the same time. An example of this would be deciding to do a five-video campaign instead of one 30-second commercial. When you ask "What else can we do with this campaign?" or "What else do we already have on hand that falls into this same marketing arena?" can also help you mine your marketing archives for existing assets you can repurpose. For budget-savvy or creatively-exhausted businesses, finding new ways to repurpose or repackage an older yet classic marketing message can go a long way.