Expanding: 4 simple marketing questions to ask

| July 5, 2017

When you are looking to expand your business it’s important to understand what your point of differences are in order to stand out. Kathy Rhodes, strategy director at Step Change explains what questions you should be asking.

Many business owners look too far ahead when developing an expansion plan. They look at issues like, “Do I focus on reaching out and getting clients? Or do I build my brand online with the aim of acquiring clients that way? While these are great questions, they’re not the first homes I’d be asking just yet.

Here’s why.

If you look closely, the questions they are really asking are what communication mediums they should should use to acquire new clients. In my work at Step Change, many business leaders ask similar questions, like, “Should I be using Facebook/Instagram for my business?” or “Should I start with SEO or SEM?”

If you’re asking these questions yourselves, you’re reading the right blog post.

But before we can answer if you should be doing those things, we need to ask three others.

1. What’s the result you are looking for?

2. Who’s your audience?

3. What do they need to know or hear (i.e. What’s the right message)?

Once you’ve nailed these three, the medium — and therefore the next step — is easier to determine.

At Step Change, we call these four-step questions RAMM: Results, Audience, Message, and Medium.

Result. Begin with an objective, and then ask yourself, “What’s the fewest number of people I actually need to speak to?”

Audience. If your goal is to reach out and speak to everyone in the world, then you’re preparing to fail. The key is to speak to fewer people and be more engaged with them. Find out who they are, what they need, and what they stand for. To learn more about how to identify and captivate the right audience, there’s an in-depth discussion you can watch here.

Message. The message is not what’s great about your business; it’s what you need to say to them to get a result.

Medium. Once you’ve gained an understanding with your result, audience, and message, you can then think about where’s the best medium, or channel, to meet your audience and get your message across.

Now let’s take a closer look.

Question 1: What’s the Result You Are Looking For?

It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t take the time to decide and document the results they are looking for before they start spending their marketing budget.
If you’re a consulting business, like the one I just cited, results might include ”Increase the number of referrals we receive per month from 8 to 10 by July 2017” or “Increase our retained clients from 5 to 15 by December 2018”.

In the latter example, we now know that we need to find 10 clients before 31 December. Looking for 10 clients is different to trying to attract 100 clients and therefore impacts on the medium we choose to use.

To help you determining your result, here’s a handy formula to remember: “ from X to Y by when”.

Question 2: Who’s your AUDIENCE?

When I ran my own marketing consultancy, I had three distinct audiences (or target markets), each with their own needs:

1. The marketing managers who were swamped with work and needed a safe pair of hands to help with tricky projects

2. The business owners who were confused by all the marketing jargon and wanted independent advice on what they should be doing

3. The creative agencies who wanted to add to the value they delivered to clients without adding a permanent member of staff to their team

Have a look at your business — have you really identified who your customers are?

Question 3: What are the right MESSAGES your audience needs to hear?

Your business is not the only one there is that can cater to your customers’ needs. There are thousands of businesses like yours out there, trying to get your audience’s attention — and your message could be drowning in marketing noise. So it’s important to understand what your point of differences are in order to stand out. The most compelling points of difference are, of course, the ones that matter to your clients. A value proposition needs to connect with the client across one of these four areas.

1. Drivers: The reason they want to engage your services. What do they really want to change in their life? The driver isn’t the service you offer; it’s how that service changes their life.

2. Triggers: How does your service fit into their lives? When and where are they thinking about it? This is about identifying the exact moment in their life you can connect with. Then when that moment occurs again in the future, it acts as a reminder for the client.

3. Pain points: What do they not like about the service in your industry? What do they hate doing?

4. Fears and barriers: What are they worried about? What might be a barrier to using your service?

Question 4: What are the right MEDIUMS to reach this audience?

Here’s a good rule of thumb: start with your owned assets first. If you have a website, then that is a great place to start to build out the brand. Plus, it’s a hygiene factor for businesses to be found online. So too is LinkedIn. Only then would you look to increase your brand presence online.

1. Owned Media. What are the channels you have complete control over? It could be your website, your business card, your office, your storefront (if you’ve got one), your car, your email signature. Email signatures are one of the most overlooked but powerful channels by sheer reach. This gives you the highest ROI.

2. Earned Media. This medium is something you get as a result of doing something else. A good example is PR. PR is any type of publication that will write an article about you, profile you in the local paper, or get you onto Australian news or the morning breakfast — but you have to earn that exposure.

3. Paid Media. This is the lowest ROI. This is when you’re actually starting to spend money on your digital marketing, on your adverts, on passively paying for a slot at a conference.

So before even thinking about client acquisition or brand growth, the four questions you really need to ask are (1) What’s the result you are looking for? (2) Who’s your audience? (3) What’s the right message? (4) What are the right mediums to reach this audience?

Kathy Rhodes

Kathy Rhodes is a Strategy Director at Step Change. She has over 12 years’ experience developing and managing a diverse range of B2B and B2C awareness, acquisition and retention campaigns. As a former business owner herself, she has a keen interest in helping businesses achieve profitable growth and expansion through high-quality, strategy-led marketing campaigns that excite and build trust.