The Top Questions to Ask About Your Business
Welcome to my series of blogs about Marketing!
The Top Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Business ... Every Year!
Marketing is what drives business. It is responsible for finding, serving, and keeping customers. Without marketing, your business would not exist! Many of us often feel that we are too busy with day to day work challenges to stop and carefully consider some key marketing questions. Take this time and you’ll be well rewarded. The answers to these questions can significantly improve your business profitability in the coming years.
Here’s a checklist of the top marketing questions to ask yourself and your key staff to keep your business on a more profitable track as we all ride the rollercoaster of business in the 21st century. You may not be able to answer all of these questions in one sitting, but be sure to carve out time to get through the list within a short period of time. Then, share the answers with your most trusted executive, and start working with your colleagues to refine your marketing strategies for the coming year and beyond for maximum profitability. As business owners or management, it is critical to take out a magnifying glass and scrutinize the marketing strategies you are currently implementing to help make your business more successful, whether is large or small.
Is your business changing? Yes, of course, it is. Change is constant. The world is changing and new forces drive your focus business. Everything’s changing…and so should your marketing strategies.
Look at the impact of Amazon on retail business which grew and grew over the years. Now, it’s difficult to have a bricks and mortar business unless it provides a needed in person service.
It’s preferable if you can work on these questions in a location where you won’t be interrupted. Why not schedule your own company retreat just by yourself! Depending upon your work style, choose to begin this task in a space outside of your office. Your backyard can be a viable spot if you can have privacy and it’s quiet. There are probably beautiful quiet spots wherever you live that can nurture your creativity. Find the best possibly place that suits your work style, and be sure to bring along some snacks, a laptop, and pen and pad. You will want to select a place that will give you a big, big picture because that’s how you want to look at your business during this exercise. Many times, the best perspective and maximum level of creativity can be gained when you’re viewing a beautiful, spacious vista with an unobstructed view. For example, in Monterey County, have you ever sat on the bench overlooking Carmel River Beach, just south of Rio Road off on Highway One? Or, driven up one of the hills off of River Road? Is there a place in Point Lobos where you can truly think? Do you have a favorite spot in Pebble Beach or Big Sur?
As you are probably aware, marketing is never an exact science. It’s an art that has to be refined continuously within a global marketplace, within an industry, and certainly within our region. And, most importantly, marketing strategies should be tested, evaluated, and changed very, very carefully. Successful implementation of your marketing strategies result in making products available that satisfy customers while making profits for your organization. Change is constant and your success depends on how well you are able to gauge the changes occurring with your competition, your market, your customers, and your overall business. You’ll want to evaluate the environment, target markets, your positioning, branding, product design, pricing strategy, advertising, social media campaigns, security and more – everything you’re doing to market your company. Most importantly, you’ll want to look at each strategy in terms of its bottom line profitability.
When you’ve found the ideal spot to do this project, think about each of the marketing questions you should ask yourself about your business. Maybe you’ll focus on one question every week or two? Before embarking on your retreat, review these questions beforehand, and obtain necessary reports and information to analyze while you are focused on the topics included in the list. The bonus is that if you do this every year, you can pull out last year’s answers and decide what may have changed over the past 12 months. Let’s get started!
Question #1 (and this is a multi-part one for starters!)
Analyze your competition locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Identify and evaluate their marketing strategies. Here are some questions you should think about regarding your competitors: who are they, where are they located, what do they sell, what do you perceive as their strengths and weaknesses, what are their pricing strategies, what customer services do they offer, how are they distributing their products, what is their brand and positioning vs. your own? What social media platforms are they using? Do they have a newsletter, both in print and email, or use direct mail marketing campaigns. What do you perceive as your competitive advantage in comparison to your competitors? Check out your competitor websites, evaluate their ads, PR mentions in the newspapers, trade magazines, industry reports, etc. and begin to compare them in a chart with your own company’s strategies.