Asking the Wrong Questions

by Dave on July 26, 2011

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The wrong questions will get you the wrong answer

Asking the wrong questionsI get this question all the time: “what should I do?”  Invariably it turns out what my new friend is really asking is how to use a specific online marketing tool or feature.  And that’s the wrong way to start any online marketing discussion.  It may seem harmless, but they’ve succumbed to one of the biggest mistakes you can make in marketing – focusing on tactics before strategy.

I need to be on Facebook

Someone will call me and declare that they need to be on Facebook.  Of course, I ask why.  The answer is usually a variation of “everyone else is.”  At the risk of sounding parental – just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean you should also.  But it’s a signal that you should consider if your online marketing strategy is missing something.

What – no strategy?

Don’t let tactics drive your online marketing

It’s easy to jump right into tactics.  Online marketing tools are easy to use and virtually, if not literally, free. Hand someone a hammer, and their first instinct is to use it.  Why else would you have a hammer?  Consider this: The reason most people wield a hammer is to get something done.  Whether it’s building something or pulling a nail, spoken or unspoken, there’s a goal in mind.

For some reason online marketing tools turn off our sense of reason – we don’t even consider our goals, too often we just jump in and “just do it” (thank you for that pearl, Nike).

You need to think strategically before you start using online marketing tools – even if you are just “test driving” them.

It’s the “who” that really matters

Audience. Audience. Audience. In case you didn’t hear me – AUDIENCE. If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach, tactics are immaterial. After you’ve nailed down your audience, then you can determine your message to (or relationship with) that audience.  Only then are you ready to think about where you are going build that connection and deliver your message.

Tools come last

Tools and tactics are only important in the context of audience and message.  Once they are defined, you are ready to consider how you can make it work – you’re ready to ask “what should I do?”

Maybe you do need to be on Facebook.

But only if it makes sense for your business.   And the only way to figure it out is to approach your market strategically and find out if the audience you want can be found there.

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