Sitting down with a prospect for advertising is always an exciting time for me. Sure, it’s exciting because I am in hope and anticipation of making a sale. But I truly enjoy meeting a fellow business owner and learning what they perceive as their competitive advantages, as well understanding what keeps them up at night.
It’s not as simple as doing a simple SWOT analysis. SWOT, in case your not familiar with it, is the classic assessment of a business via an analysis of its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The kind of in-depth conversation I encourage a client to have is really SWOT…on steroids! I want to know what’s worked in the past, what hasn’t worked and what’s on their marketing wish list. I also want to understand their brand not just as they see it, but as their customers see it. And I want to explore, uncomfortable as it may be, why someone chooses NOT to do business with them. When you explore a business like this it paints a picture with remarkable depth. It’s not unlike the difference between seeing a movie in 3D, instead of on your tv at home – there’s a perception that simply can’t be achieved any other way.
When you do a deep dive like this, you get a crystal clear and sometimes shocking picture of the market position of the company. For example, a company may have only positioned itself as less expensive than its competitors. Or perhaps what the company perceives as strengths are perceived as mumbo-jumbo technical talk by their customer. Having a candid discussion with an outside marketing expert can be extremely revealing to a busienss owner. Finding and experiencing that “AHA!” moment with a client, and seeing them perceive their business in a whole new way is really what makes my work exciting.
From there, we can begin to put together a marketing plan and, if appropriate, an advertising campaign that capitalizes on strengths and diminishes weaknesses.
Here are few of the best questions I’ve found to help understand where a business is positioned:
1) What is THE reason your customers do business with you versus your competitors?
2) Why do you lose business to your competitors?
3) What does your brand stand for?
4) If I were to ask 100 randomly chosen customers what they first thing they think of when your brand is mentioned…what would they say?
5) Tell me about your company logo and tagline. What do they represent?
6) What part of your market do you dominate?
7) What part of your market do you want to grow, or establish dominence in?
8) What has worked for you in the past with regard to marketing? What hasn’t worked?
9) What’s different about the product/service you’re offering versus what I can get somewhere else?
10) When you think about your business, what gets your excited? What scares you?