The Four Questions Every Marketing Piece You Create Must Answer

Let’s say that you and your marketing team have spent a lot of time and effort creating a new direct mail campaign. The questions you have bouncing around in your brain are probably questions like, “Is this any good?” “Will it work?” and then, “How will we know?”

Or let’s say, you’ve just completed a new website makeover. You’ve planned. You’ve designed. You’ve written new copy. You’ve added new capabilities. Yet, you still have those same three questions banging around in your brain.

Or maybe you’ve just created a new brochure. It looks great. Beautiful pictures in full color. Great page design. Cool fonts. And killer content (in your mind). Yet, it’s not really getting the response that you thought it would get. So, what gives?

Well, if marketing is about attracting and retaining new customers/clients and a marketing piece doesn’t generate more leads (or help retain those converted leads), that’s a problem. It doesn’t matter how good it looks (or if the designers love it).  What matters is, “Does it help move non-customers into the status of being a prospect/customer/repeat customer?”

So, if looking good or you liking a piece isn’t the answer, how can you know if you have a great marketing piece? Well, the answer is found in thinking like a prospect. in other words, you have to stop thinking like an owner and start thinking like the person you’re trying to market to. And if you do that, you’ll want to ask and answer the four most important questions any potential prospect is going to ask of every marketing piece they encounter.

1. Is This For Me?

As you know from your own experience, whether you’re sorting mail or surfing the internet or reviewing your email or watching an ad on TV or listing to an ad on your radio while driving somewhere, the number one question you ask of every marketing piece you encounter is, “Is this for me?”

Even worse, the company that’s trying to advertise to you has about three seconds before you make that choice, right? Three seconds. That’s it. If you’re surfing the web, and you pull up a new website, how much time do you give it before you move on? Exactly. A few seconds.

If you don’t believe me, just try this today. Go visit a few random pages and see how long you give them before you’re ready to move on. Or when you go through your mail today, see how much time you give an envelope before you decide to read it or throw it in the circular file.

Now, what makes this such an issue is that if you look at most marketing materials, what do they prominently feature? Exactly! They feature the company themselves. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a company that makes leaf blowers or an IT company that does automation, a HVAC company or an attorney, a retail clothing store or a social media marketing company, almost every business when they do their marketing, they start out by talking about themselves and what they do and how great they are.

So, if normal people only give a company three seconds to decide, “Is this for me?” and most company marketing starts out by being focused on them (meaning, the company), how effective is their marketing? Not very.

With that insight, go back and look at your marketing materials/properties. In three seconds or less, will your prospect think, “This is for me” or will they think, “This is about this company”?

2. Does This Company Get Me?

If you’re looking at a marketing piece from a company and they pass the “Is this for me?” test, the second question you ask is, “Does this company get me?” Now, you may not intentionally ask that question, but you are asking it.

Whenever you’re reading copy, you’re asking questions about whether or not the company gets you. Do they use words that I use? Do they get my problem? Do they speak my language? Are the people in these pictures people like me? Do they understand what I’d dealing with?  Do they get my world? Etc.

For example, let’s say you go home tonight and you open your mail and see two direct mail pieces from painting companies. One starts out, “LowCountry Painters: We’re the cheapest painters in town.” And the other starts out, “As a busy executive, you have a thousand things on your plate to deal with and the last thing you’re thinking today is, “When should I get my house painted?” We get that …” Which one are you going to keep reading?

This is why it’s so critical to really know your prospects—their hopes, dreams, fears, frustrations, problems, pains, longings, obstacles, needs, wants, language, etc. Because the more you know them and how they think, the better you’ll be able to connect with them.

So take a look at your marketing materials and ask, “Does this communicate we get the world our prospects live in or not?” You might be surprised by what you discover.

3. Is This a Problem I Care About Solving Today?

This is the hard one, isn’t it? We may offer what people need, but is it something that they want—and something that they want to solve today? Because if it’s not, they’ll pass. Just like we do.

For example, every week you’re inundated with ads from heating and air companies. They’re on TV, they’re on the radio, they advertise on the web, they send out direct mail and they’re in every Val-Pak on the planet. They’re everywhere. And chances are, you don’t pay much attention to them—until you have a HVAC problem or it’s time for a check up. Then, and only then, do you care about reading those marketing pieces that you normally just pass by.

So, if that’s what you do, what do you think your prospects do? Exactly. The same thing. They only pay attention to marketing messages that connect with problems that they want to solve today.

So, as you take a look at your marketing materials, do they speak to urgent problems that your target market wants to solve today? If not, change the focus and copy of your marketing messages so they connect with urgent wants vs. general needs.

4. Will I Win in This Transaction?

In other words, every prospect wants a deal. They want to know, regardless of the price point, “Will I get more value from this thing than what the company is asking from me?”

Price is irrelevant. For example, I recently bought a $1500 office chair. Most people I’ve talked with originally think, “You’ve got to be crazy! I’d never spend that much for an office chair” But for me, it was a no-brainer. Why? Because I’ve done the math. At my hourly rate, a few hours of more work in my chair and it’s paid for. Multiply that over a year (and more accurately, over years since it has a lifetime warranty) and the value of that chair so far exceeds the price I paid that I feel like I won this transaction. Even better, since I have lower back issues, and I can sit in this chair for hours and when I get up my back actually feels better—made this purchase a no brainer (i.e. how much is pain relief worth). Any way you add it up, the price (for me) is irrelevant for this chair.

On the other hand, if I were to go to Office Depot and buy a $200 office chair, I would lose in that transaction. I’d be less productive and my back would hurt more. Why would I ever pay $200 for that? That’s not a winning transaction.

In other words, the absolute price is not the critical issue. What’s critical is, “Does the prospect you’re selling to believe that the value of what you’re offering far exceeds the cost?” As long as your prospect believes that they’ll win in the transaction (regardless of whether they’re buying a $250K car or a $10 kitchen gadget or a $50 Kobe beef burger) your marketing is effective.

So, as you take a look at your marketing and your offers, do your prospects believe they’re going to win in the transaction? If not, you have to communicate more value.

Note: this is one of the reasons why bonus offers are so effective. They tend to convince prospects that they’re getting a great deal (i.e. that they’re winning in this transaction).

So, there you go. Four questions you need to make sure every marketing piece answers if you want them to be effective. Keep asking the questions your prospects are asking,

1. Is this for me?
2. Does this company get me?
3. Is this a problem I want to solve today?
4. Will I win in this transaction?

To your accelerated success!

P.S. If you have some other questions you think should be asked when evaluating a marketing piece, make sure you share them in the comments section below (or click here >> if you’re reading this by email or RSS).