I’ve learned that one of the most powerful things you can do in marketing is to ask yourself the right questions. The reason for this is because asking the right marketing questions triggers your brain to search for the right answers. We waste far too much time seeking answers that don’t matter very much.
Here are three fundamental questions that will change the game for you if you can find the answers. They are worth your time. Likely, the answers will not come quickly or easily. But when you can answer them, you truly have a goose that lays golden eggs.
Marketing question #1: How can I make my product so it needs to be shared with others in order to function?
Think back to the first person who bought a fax machine. To whom did he or she send a fax? Exactly. I’m sure the conversation went something like this:
“Hey, John. I need to fax something over to you.”
“Umm…you need to do what?”
“Send a fax. Imagine a printer and a phone had a baby. That’s a fax machine. Get one so I can send you a fax.”
John goes and buys a fax.
Guess what John’s now telling people? You see how quickly it spreads. When you have a product of value that requires another person on the other side of it, your customers do the selling for you. This is how so many social phone apps go viral and explode into millions of downloads overnight.
Marketing question #2: Instead of asking how you can make more products for your customers, ask, “how can I get more customers for my products?
Seth Godin brilliantly pointed out that, wallet share is much easier to acquire than market share. Marketers typically focus on attracting more customers. Yet it’s much easier to sell new products to existing customers. Instead, ask what other problems they have you can solve.
I know an orthodontist who is constantly troubled by lack of business. He spent years in medical school, yet only offers one service to his customers: teeth straightening.What other knowledge does this orthodontist know? With a little brainstorming around the right marketing question, I’m sure he and his team could come up with a myriad of offers he could give to his customers.
Yet the industry “norm” says, open an office and straighten people’s teeth, just like all the other orthodontists in town. Then spend your career constantly finding new teeth to straighten.
Marketing question #3: How can I take something that’s good and make it twice as good?
Rather than find ways to double your prices, consider how you can double the value your product or service gives to your customer. The more valuable your offer is, the more your customers will naturally be happy to pay more and refer friends to do the same.
When Apple first opened their doors, there were no lines. Steve Jobs had to work hard to get anyone to even take him seriously. Today, every time a new product launches, people spend the night in line just to be one of the first to pay for it, no matter how much it costs.
Why? Because each new product provides more and more value to their customers. It’s a pattern they have come to expect. If it’s good enough for Apple—one of the most successful and valuable companies in the world—it’s good enough for you.
Take these questions to heart. Pick the one that will make the most difference and schedule a brainstorming meeting with your team. Discuss how you can answer it. Be patient and repeat the process as much as you need. Become fanatical with finding the best answer.
It will come.