For Marketing Success, Keep Asking Questions
by Stan Hazen
Curiosity is one of the most powerful forces in the world, and asking questions is one of our most powerful tools. Asking questions is critical for virtually all learning and understanding. For all improvement and growth. For innovation. For identifying and solving problems. For evaluating options and making decisions. For prioritizing attention and resources.
Having a curious, questioning, analytical mind can be extremely valuable in all areas of life and in all types of work, but it can be especially important in marketing. Because to succeed in a competitive marketplace, you have to be constantly thinking, observing, listening, asking questions, and gathering information. You have to be continually improving your products as well as your marketing strategy and tactics.
Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons why marketers sometimes don’t ask questions that they should. One is the fear of asking a “stupid question”—of being perceived as not knowing something that you feel someone would expect you to know. Another is the too common mistake of assuming you already know the answer or assuming that someone else does. Another is that a potentially important question just never occurs to you, or maybe it takes someone with a different experience set or a different perspective to ask a question that you wouldn’t think to ask. And last, in the real world of marketing, sometimes you just don’t have the time or budget to ask more questions, gather more information, or do further research or testing, even if it might improve your chance of success.
But to succeed in marketing, it’s important to fight against those reasons for not asking questions and just keep asking. Is there an obvious important question that needs to be asked? What about a not-so-obvious, but still potentially important question? Are we making assumptions that we shouldn’t make? Do we have in-depth knowledge of our product—who uses it, how it’s used, and why it’s used? How does our product perform versus competitors’ products? Do we know who our optimal target is and how to communicate with them? Do we understand the customer journey, the sources of information, the purchase decision process, influencers? Do we know what the key drivers are for our product? Have we developed and tested alternative product concepts, actual test products, packages, or advertising? Is our final product, package or message optimized? What are other possibly important questions to ask or information to gather?
Of course, it’s impossible to ask or answer every possible question before it’s time for decisions and action. But to really achieve marketing success, it’s important to nurture your curiosity, keep thinking critically and creatively, and keep asking questions.
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