I’d love to be able to tell you that marketing is simple—here’s three quick secrets, bang-bang-bang, and you’re done! But nothing could be further from the truth. Marketing is hard; it is very hard.

Marketing is also mysterious. The marketing method that works great in one industry may not work at all in another industry. The marketing message that works great for one company may fall flat for even a direct competitor. Even a particular advertisement in the same marketing media may pull great one day and then not at all a week later.

Marketing Is Worth a Ton of Effort

Often, companies have no idea what kind of marketing is really working for their business. Because marketing is complex, with no easy off-the-shelf solution, you will need to manage it, experiment with it, and adjust it. It is not a chore you can or want to push largely on to someone else or outsource.

Marketing has many facets. It’s not just about choosing a marketing venue or an ad headline; it’s about lots of things. It has many layers of complexity if done right.

Ask Yourself These 7 Questions Before You Create Any Marketing

  1. To begin with, do you have a solid business plan and business strategy to promote? There’s no sense in putting energy, money, and effort into promoting a weak or also-ran business concept! It’s hard to make an elephant fly no matter how hard you try!
  2. What is your specific target market? Is there an even narrower but still viable niche that you can focus on?
  3. What are the distinguishing characteristics of your target audience? What needs do they seek to fulfill with your type of product or service?
  4. What messages are your competitors conveying in their marketing? How is it working for them?
  5. What are several alternative marketing messages that you might consider trying for your business? As you brainstorm different alternatives, be open-minded. If you have a team, get everyone together and spend some time tossing out alternatives. At this point, don’t reject any idea, no matter how silly. Try to build on one another’s ideas.
  6. Which marketing message from your brainstorming session do you want to try first? Among the best alternative ideas, what are the pros and cons of each? If this marketing message doesn’t work, which marketing message might you try next? Or can you test two or three different messages in an inexpensive way?
  7. Which marketing vehicle seems like a good bet to run your first test of the new marketing message? No matter how great your marketing message seems, that doesn’t mean it’s going to work. Set a specific results goal, limit your marketing test budget, and pull it if it’s not working.

With all of this to think about, you should develop a carefully thought-out marketing plan. However, it needs to be a very flexible plan, especially when it comes to choosing things such as marketing mediums and creative. Often, it takes a lot of time and a lot of trial and error to find the marketing path that works for you.

So have a plan, think through the total marketing path, and be prepared to test a lot of different marketing approaches. But don’t spend a lot of money until you are sure that you have found a marketing solution that works for you!