Your big marketing checklist

This collection of questions has been prepared to help you gather information which you need to create a detailed and specific report on advertising and public relations.
You certainly do not need to answer all the questions below, as certain of them will not apply to your business. Some will need more detailed answers than others. Obviously, there are many variables.

Certain questions must be asked about growth patterns past and proposed for the future. Be candid in your assessments. You must become familiar with your overall organization to plan effectively.

As you can imagine, this report will call for some heavy digging. You may never have had all the facts and viewpoints relating to your business in one place before.  This effort can take such forms as:

1. Extensive interviews. Talk with the people who make your marketing and advertising decisions. This includes a review and objective critique of any previous communication campaigns.

2. A literature search. We begin with a review of your existing materials: company history, policy manuals, marketing plans, customer surveys, catalogs, fact sheets, news releases, publications, organization charts, ads and so on. This search may involve outside study as well--materials gathered from our resource files, libraries, trade associations, trade journals, government agencies, chambers of commerce, and other sources.

3. Outside interviews. In many cases it is helpful to gather information from sales reps, media reps, publishers, retailers, customers, prospects, competitors, suppliers and others who can add insight to your situation.

4. An outside research project . This may be recommended. Depending on your needs and budget, more formal studies using a specialized survey or research firm may be advised.

What product or service categories within the industry must be studied?

[] How many are there?
[] How big are they (net worth)?
[] What are their dollar sales?

[] How many users are there?
[] What is your estimate of potential users? Why?
[] What is per-user consumption? Why?
[] What is geographical expansion?

[] What is its place in the economy?
[] What innovations have been made?
[] Which are the dominant companies?
[] Who are dominant individuals?
[] What trends have taken place?
[] Is the market fragmented?

[] What is the most common distribution chain?
[] What percentage of industry sales are by what outlets?

[] Are there  regulations or legislation  that control or restrict your operations?
[] Is there control within the industry?

[] Who makes the most money?  Why?
[] Where do profits come from?
[] How do profits relate to sales?

[] What is the importance of advertising to sales and profits?
[] What weight is placed on merchandising, public relations, etc.

[] How is industry affected by:  
[] Changing population patterns?  
[] New technology?  
[] New products and packaging?

Since it is people who buy products and services, this section is designed to provide a customer or buyer profile for your entire industry — not your business alone.
Describe the current clients of your industry using the following demographic criteria:
[] Age
[] Sex
[] Education
[] Income level
[] Type of business
[] Job titles
[] Job function
[] Family size
[] Ethnic origin or religion
[] Special aptitudes and abilities
[] Attitudes about your industry
[] Misconceptions and prejudices
[] Predisposition toward your industry
[] Habits, special interests
[] Emotional factors in the buying decision
[] Where, geographically, do clients come from?
Buying patterns:    
[] What are influences on buying?   
[] Is buying planned or on impulse? Why?   
[] Frequency of purchase?   
[] Location of purchase (near home or  office?
[] What research has been done on people's attitudes, understanding and motivation for using your industry?
[] What different types of clients do you see for the different types of products and services provided?
[] What type of client is most profitable? Which is least profitable?  How do you know?
[] Which industry features most helps clients?
[] What factors are believed to be most influential in a purchasing decision?

[] When was your organization founded?
[] What form of business is it?  (Inc.?)
[] What are your facilities?   
[] What are your capabilities?
[] What are your achievements?
[] What is on your organizational chart?

[] Description of product or service
[] Product described in one word?
[] Description of typical users
[] Description of how product is used
[] Are sales seasonal? Why?
[] What are competitive advantages?
[] What are competitive disadvantages?
[] Where are products in their life-cycle?
[] What are your new areas of activity?

[] Prices relative to your industry?
[] Prices relative to your competition?
[] What is your customer's price image?
[] How would competition react to a change in your prices (up or down)?
[] What is the relation of prices to your sales and profits?

[] What is your sales history?
[] What trends do you encounter?
[] What is happening now?
[] What are sales related to potential?
[] What are sales related to competition?

[] In what geographic areas are you operating?
[] What is the importance of the various areas in which you do business?
[] What (if any) are individual area characteristics and trends?
[] What is your selling mode? (reps, etc.)
[] Have you recently changed this mode?

IMAGE/IDENTITY  (Applies to packaging)
[] What is your company's "look?"
[] How did it evolve?
[] What research supported changes?
[] What image is created in the mind of the customer?
[] How does this image or "look" compare to the competition?

Please note that in the INDUSTRY MARKETPLACE section above you are trying to discover the customer profile for the industry as a whole. Here you are asking similar questions as you strive to find important profile differences between clients of the industry in general and your clients. Some important recommendations may hinge on correct analysis.

[] Describe the current clients of your business using the following demographic criteria:
[] Age           
[] Sex
[] Education
[] Income level
[] Type of business
[] Job titles
[] Job function
[] Family size
[] Ethnic origin or religion
[] Special aptitudes and abilities
[] Attitudes about your business
[] Misconceptions and prejudices
[] Predispositions toward your business
[] Habits, special interests
[] Emotional factors in buying decision
[] Where do these clients come from?

Buying patterns:
[] What are influences on buying?
[] Is buying planned or on impulse? Why?
[] Frequency of purchase?
[] Location of purchase (near home or office?
[]  What research has been done regarding  people's
 attitudes, understanding and motivation for using your business?
[]  What different types of clients do you see for the different types of products and services provided?
[] What type of client is most profitable? Which is least profitable? How do you know this?
[] How do your clients differ from your competitors’? Why?
[]  Which business features most benefit these clients?
[]  What factors are believed to be most influential in a
 purchasing decision?

[]  What categories of business prospects are not your
 clients but are suitable for you?
[]  How have you acquired clients in these categories in the past?
[]  What ideas do you have for adding these new clients to your business?
[]  Have you done any research for new business development? (Sources would include trade associations, Department of Commerce,  Chamber of Commerce, trade publications, etc.)
[]  List 10 current customers with their location, name and title of buyer, and why they use your business.
[]  List 10 past customers with the same information. Note why they no longer use your company.
[]  List 10 potential customers who should be using you  but may be locked into a competitor. Why is this so?

These last three questions can be used to develop a low-cost, effective media preference study.

[] How is this function organized?
[] Who are the decision makers?
[] What are your policies?
[] What are the goals and objectives  (stated in words and numbers)   
   [] This year?   
   [] Next year?   
   [] Five years from now?
[] What marketing media have you used?
[] What marketing media are preferred?
[] Do you test market? How? Where?
[] How do you handle inquiries?
[] What is your communication budget?   
   [] This year?   
   [] Last year?   
   [] Two years ago?   
[] How is your budget structured? Why?
[] What were your previous advertising strategies? Why?
[] What were the media you have used?  Why?
[] How would you change your past ads?
[] Specifically, what do you want your communications program to accomplish?
[]  What are the advantages and disadvantages of your business location?
[]  How has the quantity and or quality of what you provide your clients changed over the years?
[]   What are the normal channels or steps followed as a client goes about acquiring your products or services?
[]  Which of those channels works easiest and most profitably? 
[]  What are the reasons for your firm's share of the marketplace?
[]  What are the strategies used by your company in building new business?

[]  How has your principal product or service developed to where it is today?
[]  What are the special selling points or benefits of your product/service?
[]  What are the main problems in marketing this product to your prospective clients?

[]  Have you worked with any of the following in the past?
[] Marketing research
[] Direct mail programs
[] Sales aids and literature
[] Newsletters
[] Audio-visual materials
[] Trade shows
[] Public affairs programs
[] Radio or television commercials
[] Ads for print media
[]  What was your experience with any previous advertising agency?
[]  Who works as liaison with the advertising agency?
[]  Is the agency to be involved in new business development meetings?
[]  Who will have final authority and responsibility for a public awareness program?
[]  What is your advertising program expected to accomplish?
[]  How would the company measure results of the advertising agency's service?

[]  What is your personal reputation and the reputation of the firm in the community?
[]  What special experience do you have in the field?
[]  What are your special interests beyond your professional activity?
[]  What civic and social activities are you involved in?
[]  What participation have you had with schools, charities and related groups?
[]  Have you considered joint activities with other businesses?
[]  What news and feature coverage have you gained in news media?
[]  How was that coverage generated?
[]  What was the reaction to this coverage?
[]  Have you presented any special events, tours, seminars or speaking engagements?
[]  What is your view of public opinion toward your company?

[]  Who is your competition?
[]  How do you visualize your competition?
[] In the broadest sense, what kinds of businesses compete with you?
[] Which firms or kinds of firms are your most direct competitors?
[] Briefly describe the market position of each competitor according to:  
[] Number of years in business  
[] Size of company  
[] Management ability  
[] Financial stability  
[] Difference in marketing  
[] Difference in distribution  
[] Image and identity  
[] Growth in recent years  
[] Potential  
[] Profitability
[] What is each competitor doing right?
[] What is each competitor doing wrong?
[] What are they doing to correct errors?
[] Have they made recent changes?
[] What are the competitors' marketing and advertising methods?
[]  How can the competition be expected to counteract your firm's increased visibility?
[]  Is your main competition determined by being nearby or because of special abilities or features?
[]  How powerful is the competition that concerns you most?
[]  How have you fought it?

[] How many employees work for you?
[] How many sub-contractors do you work with on a regular basis?
[] What is the role of your staff in  your marketing program?
[] How do you motivate your employees?
[] What are their capabilities, interests and limitations?
[]  Who, by talent, nature and experience, is most suitable to various aspects of marketing? For example, who can handle phone inquiries, planning, letter-writing, and cross-selling?
[] Who is creative?
[] Who can innovate?   
[] Who can evaluate?

[] Where do they come from?
[] How can they be maximized?
[] How do profits relate to sales?
[] How do profits break down by type of service or product?
[] How do profits relate to product life-cycle?

[]  What do you gain from association memberships?
[]  What disadvantages do you find in such memberships?
[]  What assistance or restriction do you encounter with government agencies?
[]  Do your clients understand the effect government requirements have on your activities?

[] What is your business philosophy?
[] What do you want out of life?
[] Describe your company in one word?
[] What are your biggest marketing problems?
[] What are your biggest marketing opportunities?
[] What is your top marketing strength?  Why?
[] What is your marketing weakness?  Why?
[] What is your biggest financial problem?  Why?  What can you do?

[] What have we forgotten to ask?

If we can help you — please contact us
If you have any questions about the material above,  or on any aspect of marketing communication, we welcome an opportunity to speak with you. 


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