10 Questions You Should Never Stop Asking About Your Business

Marc Kramer wrote an article for Forbes Magazine last November. The title of the article is The 10 Questions You Should Never Stop Asking. The article is based in experiences the author had while trying to captain a sinking publishing business. Here are his 10 questions:

  1. What is our purpose for existing?
  2. Who is our target market?
  3. Does anyone need what we are selling?
  4. If there is a need for what we are selling, can we be profitable?
  5. What are our competitors up to?
  6. Can we reduce expenses without harming the product?
  7. Do we have the right leadership?
  8. Do we have the right people?
  9. How can we continually drive revenue?
  10. How are our employees holding up?

A good marketing firm should help you answer 7 of these questions (1-6,9). Take a look at questions 1 through 6 and 9; would you like the answers to those questions? Do you think that knowing answers to those questions would make you more profitable?

Let’s take a look at these questions from a marketing perspective.

What is your purpose for existing?

This seems like an easy question – businesses exist to make money, right? Not so fast my friends. In order to stay in business, your analysis of why you exist needs to be a little more robust. The marketing principle of positioning helps businesses answer this question. What is a position? A position is what you mean to your customers in the minds of your customers. Walmart and Target occupy the same market space, but have different positions. Target is more “high-end big box” and Walmart is more “cheap big box.” Both companies are successful. This is because they know their positions and why they exist.

Who is your target market?  Does anyone need what you are selling?

Any marketing firm worth its salt should be able to tell you exactly who your target market is. The best firms will go even further by telling you what media will best reach that target market, how much it will cost to reach a percentage of that target market, and what your expected ROI will be.

Accurately determining your target market can save you money and opportunity cost.

An example from a former client illustrates this: During an analysis of this client’s existing customers we discovered that they only had a 30% loyalty rate. It became apparent that their target market was not a group of people that were unfamiliar with them. We executed a campaign aimed at retention, which saved a lot of money and was very effective.  Within 2 months they were achieving record revenue and made back their marketing investment within 60 days.

If there is a need for what we are selling, can we be profitable?

Once you have enough data on your target market the answer to this question should become evident.  After looking at profitability projections with some potential clients, we have mutually decided to not work together. This is usually because the launch of a new product or business will not be profitable or profitable enough to justify an upfront marketing investment.

What are our competitors up to?

You should always know what your competitors are doing. You should know about their products, their marketing, their operations, and their administrative strategies (people, financial, and growth strategies).

A client once came to us with a desire to grow market share. This is a broad goal. However, after an analysis of their competition a niche became clear and we designed a marketing strategy to exploit that niche. Analyzing your competition should help you understand where they are succeeding (strengths) and where they are failing (weaknesses). If you can hedge their strengths and leverage their weaknesses with your strengths you will gain market share.

Can we reduce expenses without harming the product? How can we continually drive revenue?

A good marketing firm shouldn’t try to sell you stand alone campaigns. A good marketing firm will partner with you to measure the ROI of your marketing strategy and find ways to continuously improve it. This allows you to get more out of your marketing budget without pouring more money into it. This allows you to drive revenue while creating a marketing machine that  becomes more and more efficient over time.

Keep in mind, these are questions you should never stop asking – they should always be on your mind.