I just returned from a college reunion in New Orleans. One of the things that I loved about going to school in New Orleans was that the education occurred both in and out of the classroom. As I reflect on that now, I realize that the same still holds…. My education has continued throughout my career, not only from graduate school, seminars and reading books or periodicals. I have learned on the job and in the trenches, in the frying pan and sometimes in the fire, from people who were mentors and from people who were – well, let’s just say not mentors – and from other team members, clients and employees.
Marketing and communications is a discipline where you need to constantly learn both tactically and strategically.
- Tactically, we’ve had a revolution over the last several years with the growth of new technologies and evolving and maturing ways to reach and engage with our target audiences. We had to learn how and when to integrate them into our efforts.
- Strategically, we always have to quickly get our arms around a new situation, challenge / opportunity, product, audience, etc. We always have to learn and figure it out fast.
I learned how to zero in strategically from tools I got in a classroom, refined by years of real-world hits and misses (fortunately more of the former than the latter). I now find myself going back to the same fundamental questions to help me figure out the best approach. You see, I have a list of 10 questions I always start out with, the answers to which I must learn, research and often intuit. I’m not saying that this is all I need to learn, but it’s a great head start. For what it’s worth, here are my 10 questions:
- What are the business objectives?
- What are your main challenges/opportunities?
- Confirm target audiences and what they’re looking for
- Confirm marketing and communications objectives
- What are the key benefits of product/service and why should anyone care?
- Who are the competitors and what have they been up to?
- What have you been doing already and what’s worked/not – and why?
- What does success look like?
- What is the budget range?
- And you need it done by when?
Now I want to see yours! (And let the education outside the classroom continue….)