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Five Questions That All Marketers Need to Ask Themselves

Marc Wayshak
May 09, 2014

As a teenager, Jack Dorsey developed dispatch routing software for taxi cabs. During this time, he was intrigued by the way taxis could briefly update others on their whereabouts. Soon, he began to contemplate developing an online program that would allow everyday people to send short messages to others in their online community. Just a few years later, he and co-founders Biz Stone and Noah Glass started Twitter. Twitter has become an integral part of our lives, and the mindset that led to its creation is just as critical to those looking to market their organizations. Dorsey speaks passionately these days about creating a “user narrative” when developing a product that tells a story of the user’s day-to-day life. This allows his companies, like Twitter and Square Reader, to create products that are built with the sole intention of filling a particular need. This same mindset can also be applied to marketing. All too often, businesses market themselves without the prospect in mind. But successful marketers of the future will begin to align all marketing efforts with a prospect narrative. Creating a prospect narrative is an easy and powerful way to put yourself into your prospect's shoes—and ultimately increase the effectiveness of your marketing. Here are five questions to consider when developing a prospect narrative for your company's next marketing campaign: 1. What is your prospect doing during his day? Most organizations create their marketing materials without considering what a prospect will be doing when he or she receives a marketing message. Prospects are busier than they have ever been in history. In fact, they are spending over a quarter of their day just responding to e-mails. In order for your campaign to break through the clutter, you must consider how your ideal prospect is spending his time. 2. What is keeping them up at night? Usually, a company centers the majority of its marketing efforts around the company itself or the features and benefits of a specific product. However, prospects don’t care about us, our company or our offerings. All they care about are the issues they are dealing with right then and there. What are the challenges that your ideal prospect takes home with them each night? If you want your marketing to elicit a particular behavior, then spend some time matching your message to the challenges your prospect cares most about. 3. What will catch the prospect’s attention? Most organizations are so focused on broadcasting how great they are that they don’t think about what will most effectively catch the attention of the intended prospect. Most commercials, for example, are generic and unmemorable, so in order for yours to stand out, you need to develop a message that is so appealing or jarring to your prospect that he has no choice but to react to it. 4. What action will they most likely take? So many marketing campaigns are focused solely on increasing awareness of an organization, rather than encouraging a prospect to take some action. This is tantamount to burning cash in a barrel. Think about what action your prospect would most realistically take after absorbing your message. Would he most likely go to a Web site, send a text, pick up the phone, send something through the mail or find you on Twitter? Once you know which medium a prospect is most likely to use, then you can develop a call-to-action that aligns with it. 5. How will you keep them engaged? Rarely do companies develop marketing campaigns that create long-term engagement. However, those that do receive dividends over and over again, all from that initial investment. Therefore, the question great marketers want to answer is, given the prospect’s narrative, what are realistic ways to engage them in the long run? This will be the difference between developing a one-time customer and a long-term fan. By formulating answers to these five questions, you begin to create a story of what your prospect is doing and what he is thinking about. After the prospect narrative is created, your marketing team should channel Dorsey by fitting campaigns precisely into that narrative. Marc Wayshak is the author of two books on sales and leadership, Game Plan Selling and Breaking All Barriers, as well as a regular contributor for Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post Business section. He may be reached by phone at (617) 203-2171, e-mail [email protected] or visit
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