Marketing doesn't have to consume a great deal of your time, but putting in some upfront thought can save you many hours and the expense of campaigns that land in the "flop" pile.

Jack LaRue, author of Thomson Reuters' Marketing Mondays blog, said that there are three core questions you should be able to answer before designing any marketing campaign or collateral piece:

1. Who is the audience?

2. What is the purpose?

3. How will it be delivered?

Think about it. You wouldn't send the same lead-generation campaign to prospects that span multiple niches. Each audience requires a unique message, geared toward their respective industry. Thinking through the steps of each marketing initiative will help to mitigate such mistakes and engage your reader enough to take action.



With this in mind, consider the questions you must ask yourself:

1. Who is your audience? Approach your next marketing campaign by first determining who exactly you are trying to reach. Start with the basics. Are you communicating with current clients or prospects? Current clients already know you, so there's no need to re-introduce your firm. Prospects don't know a lot about you, so you will need to explain who you are and the value your firm offers.

Next, dig a bit deeper. Are you trying to reach a unique niche? If you are, you will want to make sure that you communicate your niche expertise within your campaign. Your message should emphasize industry-specific knowledge. This level of detail creates a message that is more personal and engaging to your audience, which will help boost response rate.

2. What is the purpose? You must determine a purpose for each campaign. In other words, once your audience reads your campaign, what do you want them to do? Call you to set up a consultation? Visit your Web site to sign up for an event? Or are you simply generating awareness? Are you trying to transition prospects to clients? Defining the outcome for each campaign will help you craft an appropriate message.

3. How will it be delivered? What is the best mechanism to get your campaign or marketing piece in the hands of your intended audience? Will you send an electronic communication or a print campaign? Be sure to take cost and timing into consideration. Print campaigns can be expensive and require you to pad your campaign with extra days to cover printing and mailing time. In the end, you need to decide what delivery method will be most effective.



Think-first marketing is the way to go. Haphazardly developed marketing campaigns most often result in the wrong message going to the wrong audience, or a poorly created initiative in general. A well-planned campaign will render better results and make you look like a marketing pro (even if you don't feel like one yet).

Stop. Think. Market.


Kristy Short, Ed.D, is president of SAS Communications 360 ( She is also a professor of English and marketing at University of Phoenix and Cleary University. Reach her at

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