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You know your tax dollars are not exactly being put to good use when you come across a blog entitled “Marketing 101” on the US Small Business Administration website providing the insightful advice of “satisfy customer needs” and “profitable sales volume is more important than maximum sales volume.”

This sent me down a path of observation that marketing seems to be a discipline that everyone I’ve ever come in contact with believes they understand (if not have mastered it in some way).  At a minimum everyone has an opinion of what they think is good versus bad marketing while at the other extreme you get people who talk tactics as if it is a full blown marketing campaign.

So how do you know good marketing from bad marketing?

Sometimes the best way to answer this is to go back to the basics and to review what has been done before.  Dorie Clark wrote a blog for Harvard Business Review called “Marketers Go Back To Basics” and offered the following fantastic advice:

“To improve your marketing, and perhaps even save some money, it’s important to first determine if you’ve fully extracted the value from existing ideas, existing product lines, and existing marketing channels. Innovation is great — but not before you’ve leveraged what you’ve already got. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What is everyone else doing — and how can I do the opposite?
  • What worked in the past that’s been abandoned — and why?
  • What circumstances have changed that might allow for new opportunities?
  • What untapped markets might exist?”

Perhaps a better way would be to stay current with the latest techniques that define the new Marketing 101 parameters. One of the best courses I’ve seen online (and free!) is from Hubspot Academy for “Inbound Certification.”

When all else fails just remember the 5W’s and H:

  • What are you selling?
  • Who is your target audience (persona)?
  • When are they likely to be interested in your offering?
  • Why will they choose your offering over other options?
  • Where will they congregate?
  • How can you make it so easy to acquire your solution that there is no excuse not to?

This may seem like a very simple list but you’d be surprised how many people try to market something before they answered these basic questions.  Getting back to the basics of marketing will ensure you at least start on the correct path to success.