Developing a marketing plan? Start with these 10 questions.

Putting together a marketing plan can be pretty overwhelming. With so much to account for, you can get lost in the minutiae pretty quickly. Like most things, however, it helps of you start with the top priority, big picture stuff. Once you get that down, it’s a lot easier to make sense of the details.

When I build marketing plans, I generally start with ten specific questions. They don’t cover everything, and some may lead you to even more questions (some that can only be answered through marketing research), but that’s actually not all bad. Better to ask the right questions before spending your money and time than to waste resources by relying on too much guesswork.

Here, then are the questions I start with. What would you add or change?

  1. Why are you marketing at all? What’s the primary thing you hope to accomplish? (Increased sales, brand building, inquiries, change a perception, etc.)
  2. Who is your audience SPECIFICALLY? (NOT “the general public,” or “everyone.”) A good way to ask this is, “Tell me everything you can (gender, age, income level, hobbies/interests, etc.) about the person who’s most likely to walk into your store/call you about your service.
  3. What is the primary problem your audience is trying to solve? (Marketing always starts with the audience’s problem.)
  4. What is your market area (geographic)?
  5. What are your businesses primary, specific, DIFFERENTIATED strengths? (Not “our people.” Instead, what, specifically, makes your people better?)
  6. What are your primary weaknesses? (Be honest and objective.)
  7. Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  8. If you could tell a prospective customer the ONE reason why they should choose you over a competitor or another pull on their discretionary income on, what would that be?
  9. How will you measure success? (e.g. volume, sales, changing a perception for which you have baseline data.)
  10. What is your budget?
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