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99 Marketing Questions
What is Marketing? Well, without marketing all businesses will fail.
You must think through how your business gets to its market, how your marketplace becomes aware of your business and how to boost sales and profits. Before you consider the viability of your company it is worth asking yourself these questions to focus on key marketing issues.
Remember not all of these questions may seem relevant to your business at first but consider them nevertheless.
- When you started your business what was your objective? Was it to make money or build a business?
- When you first started in this business, how did you attract your first customers (what process, method or action did you use)?
- Why did your customers originally buy from you?
- Why do customers buy from you now? Is it different?
- What is your current main method of sales and marketing? What percentage of your business comes from this?
- What ongoing sales efforts do you personally perform today? What sales functions did you perform when you started your business?
- Where do your customers come from specifically? (Geographically and sector)
- What do you believe your greatest single competitive advantage?
- What are you most proud of about your business, product or service?
- If you had the choice, would you rather attract more new customers or make more money from your existing customers and why?
- Describe what your business does completely. (What do you sell, how do you sell it, and whom you sell it to by industry, commercial category or specific niche).
- Do your customers know what your business philosophy is?
- How have your methods for doing business, or the product or service lines you market, changed since you started in the business?
- What is your vision for your business for the next: 6 Months? 3-5 years? 10 years?
- What is your biggest opportunity to achieve this vision?
- What is your greatest strength and is it consistent with this opportunity?
- What are your sales per employee? Is it above, below or equal to your industry average and what are the steps you are taking (or going to take) to improve it?
- Do you monitor complaints?
- What is the biggest customer complaint about your company and how does your company address this problem?
- Have you ever bought from your competitors to keep track of what they’re doing right and wrong?
- Do you actively seek information from experts in your field and other fields related to yours?
- When was the last time you introduced a new product or service to your market (both existing and prospects), how well did it work, and what was the reason?
- What is your target market and how did you arrive at it?
- What is your Unique Selling Proposition or USP (why do your customers buy from you – what is it about your product and/or service that distinguishes your from your competition)? You may have more then one for different product/service lines or segments of your business.
- Is your USP a consistent theme in all of marketing and sales efforts? If yes, how, and if no why not?
- Briefly describe your marketing mix (all the different types of marketing you do and how they interrelate – i.e.; Yellow Pages, Internet, advertisements, direct mail, direct sales, telemarketing, corporate hospitality etc.)
- Who are your biggest competitors and what do they offer that you do not?
- Why do people buy from you instead?
- What are your competitor’s biggest failing and how do you specifically exploit that?
- Do you use direct response marketing concepts (those designed to induce an immediate and measurable response)? If no, why not?
- How much of your time each month do you devote to marketing?
- Do you have a marketing manager or director? If so, describe his/her primary responsibilities and duties?
- What is the size of your overall market and your current share of that market?
- What are the ways you have retained your existing customers?
- What does it cost you to get a new customer? (e.g. If you ran an advertisement that cost £1000.00 and you gained two new customers it would be £500.00)
- What are the average sales and profits generated from a new customer in the first year and how is that information useful in your overall marketing strategy?
- What is your biggest and best source of new business and are you doing everything possible to secure this business? If the answer is no, why not?
- What has been your biggest marketing success to date (defined as a specific promotion, advertising campaign, telemarketing script, trade show etc)
- What is your biggest marketing problem or challenge today?
- Does your business market locally, regionally nationally or internationally now, and what change is required to satisfy your projected vision of your business?
- After the initial sale, are there systematic, formal methods you use to communicate and resell your customers? If so what are they? If not, should there be? How do gauge customer satisfaction?
- Do you have a system for selling your own or others products to existing customers? How does it work?
- If you had as much money as you wanted, what would you do to improve your marketing (i.e.: what is your biggest marketing problem or challenge today)?
- If you had as much money as you wanted, what would you do to improve your product or service and what impact would that have on your customers?
- Do you have a written marketing plan that you adhere to?
- Is the plan based on a fixed budget or is it a variable percentage of sales?
- What do your customers really want (be specific, don’t just answer a quality product or service)? How do you know?
- Why do customers buy from you? Do they buy from you exclusively or do they also patronise your competitors? What steps can you take to get the main portion of their business?
- What problem does your product or service solve for the customer? Describe your customer’s needs and the positive results your product/service provides?
- Do you have an adequate supply of customer testimonials and is there a system in place for their collection? How do you use them in your marketing?
- Do you talk to your customers? Do you listen?
- Is your in-bound telephone operation well trained to close and increase the average order?
- Do you have a system to actively solicit referral business? If so how does it work, and if not, why not?
- Have you ever tried to reactivate your former customers and non-converted prospects? If not why not?
- Do you make consistent efforts to communicate with and educate your customers about what your company is doing to help them? How formal, informal, or systematic is this process?
- In what ways do you try to up-sell and/or cross-sell your customers?
- Are there additional products/services you could be selling to existing customers but aren’t?
- Does 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers? What are the implications of what you’ve discovered? Should you not just concentrate on that 20%
- Do you talk to your customers yourself?
- What kind of guarantee or warranty do you give your customers and how does it compare with your competitors or with the industry at large?
- How do you capture the names, addresses and phone numbers of all your customers and prospects? Do you use this data to plan your marketing programmes?
- What is your customer attrition rate? Is it normal? If it’s too high, what do you think is the reason? If is lower than average why? How can your customer attrition rate be improved?
- Do your contact your customers frequently with propositions or offers? If so, describe this process.
- Briefly describe the niche you fill in the market and in the customers mind. Are they the same?
- What is your advertising philosophy? What influenced or forged your thoughts on this and describe how you embody it into your ads, or don’t you?
- Do you use direct response advertising (ads that cause a customer to take action, as opposed to "image" advertising)? If yes, please describe the essence of the offer or proposition you typically make. If not, why not?
- Are your ads working? How do you know? Are the ads instantly recognisable as yours?
- What’s your conversion ratio (in other words, out of every x leads you get y customers or sales) and what are the different techniques you have used to measure and improve it?
- What is your advertising cost per sale?
- Have you tested different approaches to increase this number?
- Do you test different aspects of your advertising? What do you test? (copy, offer, price, illustrations, media, headline, size, position in publication)
- What is the most consistent way you attract customers to your company?
- How much do you spend to bring in a new customer?
- How much is the initial sale worth?
- How much prospecting mail do you drop each month? To whom, and why?
- Do you use a list broker? If not, where do you get your names from?
- How could you use non-competing companies who sell complimentary products/services? (i.e.: a carpet cleaner approaching a carpeting company)
- Do you test different aspects of your mailings? What do you test? (Copy, offer, price, illustrations, list, headline, size, position in publication)
- What is the return on investment for your mailings and how do you think it can be improved?
- How often do you mail to your own list of customers?
- How often does a typical customer buy from you? How can that be improved?
- Do you rent out your customer and/or prospect lists?
- Have you ever used telemarketing as a follow-up to a direct mailing? If yes, what is it’s effectiveness and if no, why not?
- How is your sales force compensated?
- Have you tried different types of compensation programs? What was their effect on sales?
- If you use another direct sales form (independent sales reps, dealers) have you ever compared the results to an inside or outside sales force?
- Do you have a sales manager? What are his/her duties and objectives and how do they fit in with the overall marketing strategy?
- What is your gross and net income per salesperson? What methods can you use to improve it?
- How much time do you personally devote to sales or salespeople?
- What is your average order amount and what are the steps you can take to increase it?
- Do you do anything at the point of sale to increase the order or add on other products (upsell) and if so what?
- How much professional sales training have you had and what type of training do you offer your sales people?
- How long do you take to fill an order after you receive it, and if you improved it would it have a dramatic effect on your sales?
- Is buyer’s remorse a problem for you and if so, how do you overcome it?
- Do your customers feel your customer service department is prompt and courteous?
- What type of training do you offer your service personnel?
- Do your vendors have a direct financial interest in your growth and ultimate success?
- Have you gone to your vendors in the past for financial support, advertising assistance, etc? If yes, describe.
- How do you use a public relations strategy to complement your marketing?
Now that you have read this we hope that you recognise just how important marketing can be to your business.
Interestingly in our experience sales and marketing are often the first items of expenditure that are cut when a business is under pressure. Having read this do you think that is correct? Most people (including your competitors) spend so much time working in their businesses that they never take the time to work on their businesses.
Read the above print it off and answer the questions. Take this test and see if helps in your turnaround or rescue strategy.