Answers Are Better Than Assumptions
As a kid, I enjoyed stories but my favorite books were ones that taught me about things. How things worked, why things are, who we are. When my grandma bought each family a World Book Encyclopedia set for Christmas one year, I spent hours reading page after page. It didn’t matter the subject (though they were very helpful in school later on), I loved to find the answers to every question I could. In my job as a marketer, I still get to feed that need for knowledge and answering the who, what, where, why, and how. By finding real answers, we can be much better prepared to direct our strategy and efforts.
No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives. -Neil deGrasse Tyson
For many in marketing, there is very little questioning. They simply accept whatever they’re told or read as fact. They believe they know who they should be marketing to and build their strategies around that belief. They measure their success in the ways they think will show it and they celebrate success based on those assumed KPIs. While it would be much easier to just accept things as they do, by believing, they won’t see the greatest success from their work unless they start asking questions. And then finding the real answers.
Question Everything. Then Answer It.
Where does one begin with the questioning? Start with your goals. Answer the ‘what’. What are you trying to accomplish with your marketing efforts? This one should be easy. Most likely, it’s going to be, “sell our product”. If you work in a specific marketing department or discipline, your ‘what’ may be a bit more narrow such as, “Use email marketing to sell our products.”
Once you’ve answered the ‘what’, move on to the ‘how’. How will you be accomplishing your goal? Think tactical. The best marketing efforts use a combination of multiple tactics, so your answers should include a mix for best results. While the ‘when’ is generally, “As soon as we’re done planning.”, it may be further off, such as an event related campaign. Regardless of it’s now or later, the ‘when’ must be answered, though it’s not generally as important as the other questions in the planning stage.
When you’ve defined the high level ‘hows’, move on to answering the more specific ‘hows’ related to each of them. How will your social media campaign be structured? How will you engage your followers? How, how, how…
Time For The Execution
Now that you know the ‘what’ and ‘how’, it’s time to execute. The answers you’ve already found will help to design a program that has greater chances of success from the start than those that simply make assumptions or take advice from others.
Just because your plan is rolling doesn’t mean you can stop questioning everything. Even while in this stage, any insights you can gain could benefit your initiatives. Question how things are performing, why they are that way, what you should change for better performance, when you can make those changes, and how they’ll be implemented. Don’t do this just once, but constantly throughout your program. Question everything and find ways to make it better. Don’t wait until afterwards to make changes when they no longer matter.
The Program May Be Over, But The Questions Aren’t
When your current initiative comes to an end, the job is far from over. Before your program ends, you should have plenty of questions ready to be answered. Now is the time to dig in really deep. Ask as many questions as you can and get all the answers possible. Find every who, what, where, why, and how from your results.
As you start answering your initial questions, others should arise. Maybe you find ‘what’ the best performing social message of the campaign was. Follow up that answer with the question of ‘why’ it performed so well. Get answers, then question them to get an even better understanding. The questioning only ends when you’re fully satisfied that you’ve answered everything and fully understand the results inside and out. Armed with this wealth of knowledge about your program, you’re now much better informed to design (or modify) a strategy that will return even better performance in the future. You’ll also be fully prepared to answer any questions others may have about your program performance.
You’ve Got Answers. For Now.
Asking questions and finding the answers not only allows us to be better informed, it allows us to realize things we’d not been aware of before. It gives us a better understanding of our marketing programs and the world around us. By always being curious and being unafraid to ask, we can learn far more than if we simply take others word for it or make assumptions.
The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge. –Thomas Berger
Keep asking. Keep wondering. Keep digging deeper and keep searching. Continuing to find the answers to all of the questions you encounter will make you much better informed in your marketing and life. Never be afraid to ask. The answer may be even better than you hoped.