Very few activities can help transform your business as much as marketing does. If gotten right, it can take a small business from complete obscurity to industry limelight.
But then, not many small businesses get their marketing right. And that’s why they still struggle.
I have written several unusual articles on the issue of strategic marketing, so instead of loading you with more principles and best practices, now it’s time for action.
Here are 55 strategic marketing questions for small businesses from one of the greatest marketing minds alive – Jay Abraham.
These questions are part of a collection of 99 strategic planning questionnaires he uses for his clients while consulting for them. And by clients, I do not mean some struggling solo entrepreneur, but rather 7 figure monthly income generating small businesses.
How to Answer these 55 Strategic Marketing Questions
Don’t attempt to answer these questions as if they were exam questions that must be answered on the spot, no. They are deep questions that will require some deep thinking on your part as well as that of your team.
This is not a one off task, that you complete once and set aside for life, no. This is a reference material, one that must be revisited continuously as you progress in your entrepreneurial journey.
So here’s my suggestion on how to go about answering them;
- Answer them in parts of 5 questions per week. You will be done in 11 weeks.
- Try to answer them alone first, don’t involve your team.
- Not all answers will be applicable to you depending on your business, so focus more on the ones that apply to you at the moment and save others for later.
- Organize a strategy session or sessions with your team or strategic partners and go over the questions together, writing down all the inputs gathered.
- Create an excel document with all 55 strategic marketing questions in one row and the answers you’ve gathered for each question in the column in front of the question. Then add another column with action steps to take in order to carry out that answer, or improve on the existing answer. This will take you from just thinking to doing.
Without further ado, here are the questions, enjoy!
55 Strategic Marketing Questions for Small Businesses by Jay Abraham
1. Who is your target market and how did you arrive at it?
2. Describe what your business does completely (what you sell, how you sell it, and who you sell to by industry, commercial category or specific niche).
3. What primary method of generating customers was used to build my business?
4. What is your business philosophy as it relates to your customers?
5. How have your methods for doing business or the product or service line(s) you market changed since the inception of your business?
6. What is your vision for your business for the next: 6 months, 1 year, 3-5 years and 10 years and beyond?
7. What or where is your biggest opportunity that will help you achieve this vision?
8. What is your greatest strength, and is it consistent with this opportunity?
9. What are your sales per employee? Is that above, below, or equal to your industry average and what are the steps you are taking [or going to take] to improve it?
10. What is the “lifetime value” of your typical customer [i.e. how much revenue will he/she generate for you over the entire period he/she does business with your company?]
11. What is the biggest customer complaint about your company, and how does your company address this problem?
12. 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 distinguish you from your competition? You may have more than one for different product/service lines or segments of your business?
13. Is your USP a consistent theme in all of your marketing and sales efforts? If yes, how, and if no, why not?
14. Briefly describe your marketing program or marketing mix [all the different types of marketing you use and how they interrelate – i.e; yellow pages, spot advertisements, direct mail, direct sales, telemarketing, online marketing etc.].
15. Who are your biggest competitors and what do they offer that you do not offer?
16. What steps do you take to offset their advantage? Are they working? If not, what needs to be changed?
17. What is your competition’s biggest failing, and how do you specifically fill that void?
18. Do you use direct response marketing concepts [those designed to induce an immediate and measurable response?] If no, why not?
19. How much of your time each month do you devote to marketing?
20. Do you have a marketing director? If so, describe his/her primary responsibilities and duties.
21. Do you have a written marketing plan that you adhere to? If so, explain it:
22. Is the plan based on a fixed budget number [i.e. 10,000 per month in the newspaper], or is it a variable percentage of sales?
23. What do your customers really want [be specific, don’t just answer “a quality product or service”]? How do you know?
24. Do customers buy from you exclusively or do they also patronize your competitors? What steps can you take to get the main portion of their business?
25. Do you provide incentive bonuses to your employees for creating new and better marketing methods for your company? Explain.
26. What’s your market potential [universe] and your current share of that market?
27. What are the ways you’ve used to acquire your existing customers [from best to worst]?
28. What does it cost you to get a new customer [ie. If you ran an advertisement that cost 1,000 and you acquired two new customers, your cost would be 500]?
29. What is 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?
30. What is your biggest and best source of new business, and are you doing everything possible to secure this business? If no, why not?
31. What has been your biggest marketing success to date [defined as a specific promotion, advertising campaign, telemarketing script, etc.] and are you still using it?
32. What is your biggest marketing problem or challenge today? Describe it in its entirety as candidly and directly as possible, including personal, financial, and transactional implications it may impose.
33. How many better ways could you reduce the risk of transaction, lower the barrier of entry or reduce the hurdle for your customer, client or patient to make it easier for that person to do business with you?
34. 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?
35. Do you have a systematic back-end [selling your own or others’ products to existing customers]? Describe how it works:
36. What problem does your product or service solve for the customer? Describe your customers’ needs and the positive results your product/service provides?
37. Do you have an adequate supply of customer testimonials, and is there a system in place for their capture? Are they written, on audio tape or video tape, and how are they used in your marketing?
38. In what ways, if any, are the testimonials dramatic, dynamic and compelling to others?
39. Describe the best specific achievement you have produced for one of your customers.
40. Do you actively solicit referral business? If so, how does it work, and if not, why not?
41. Have you ever tried to reactivate your former customers and non-converted prospects? Explain.
42. Have you ever tried selling your non-converted prospects to your competitors? Explain.
43. 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 the process?
44. In what ways do you try to up-sell and/or cross-sell your customers?
45. Are there other ways or different products/services you could be selling but you are not?
46. Do you need to make money on first-time buyers, or are you satisfied with only making it on the back-end [reorders]? Explain:
47. Does 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers? What are the implications of your particular ratios?
48. Do you ever barter your products, services or assets with other companies in exchange for their products, services or assets? Explain how it works.
49. Have you used bonuses in your sales/marketing propositions? If so, how did it affect the response?
50. What kind of guarantee or warranty do you give your customers, and how does it compare with your competitors with the industry at large?
51. What is your customer attrition rate?
52. Is that normal for your industry?
53. If it’s too high, what do you think is the reason?
54. If it’s lower than average, why?
55. How can your customer attrition rate be improved (be specific)?
Conclusion: Want More?
Jay Abraham is still in the business of taking small businesses to the next level. He recently launched a mother lode campaign of educational resources for small businesses which he’s completely giving out for free tagged “50 Shades of Jay” – click here to grab them now!