1 Question to Ask Before Trying a New Marketing Method

1 Question to Ask Before Trying a New Marketing Method

Many prospective clients start their conversation with me by asking if I can do a specific marketing task for them. “I need someone to do my Instagram,” they say. Or, “Do you build websites? Mine is terrible.”

On one level, the answer to these questions is yes. We’re a full-service marketing agency. If it helps generate leads for small business, we do it.  

However, we don’t just jump in and fix social media, build a new website, or generate media appearances. Not without looking at the business as a whole.

Diagnose the Problem First

Do you ever put off going to the doctor for something annoying but not critical? When it’s not an emergency, sometimes I try to live with the problem for a while because I know my doctor will just send me for tests, or to a physiotherapist, or some other step in the diagnostic process. I end up with more items on my to-do list when I barely had the time for the first appointment. 

Marketing is like that sometimes. The symptom might be an underperforming social account, a dated website, or not enough people at your events. But that’s not the actual problem. It can be time-consuming to chase down what that problem is. Before I issue a diagnosis, our team examines your successes and failures, and most importantly, your goals. 

You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Understand

Your doctor needs to know whether your heel pain is from a tendon strain, a bone spur or arthritis before they can fix it. If they just give you something to kill the pain, you may end up making the problem worse because you haven’t addressed the underlying cause.

Similarly, suppose your lack of Instagram engagement is actually due to targeting the wrong audience for your business. In that case, no amount of improvement to your content or profile will bring in more business. 

This 1-minute video has more information about defining your target audience.

That’s why I recommend you always ask yourself this one question before adding or changing a marketing tactic for your business.

The One Question to Ask

That question is, “What is the problem to which this is the solution?” 

I didn’t make up this question. It comes from a favourite book I read in my “Theories of Social Change” class in university, “Technopoly” by Dr. Neil Postman. The book is about the consequences of becoming too entwined with our technology. Dr. Postman wrote it in 1992, but it is even more relevant today. 

He recommends asking ourselves specific questions before blindly accepting new technology, one of them being “What is the problem to which this is the solution?” In other words, is this supposed “great technology” actually helping us in the way its makers claim?

Does Your Marketing Plan Address Your Problems?

Dr. Postman points out that adopting new technology doesn’t always solve our problems. Often, it creates new problems or distracts from our old ones. 

It’s hard to argue with his thesis. Did social media really connect us better? (the problem it claimed to be solving) Or did it do a better job of sowing division and mining our data?

If you want to update your website or fix your Instagram, what is the problem to which you believe that step is the solution? Instead of choosing the medicine and hoping for the best, spend some time getting an accurate diagnosis. Often the cure will present itself, and you’ll know you’re solving the problem you set out to solve.