Asking the Right Questions is Your Smartest Investment

The success of any organization—whether private corporation or philanthropic foundation—begins with a clear understanding of customers and their needs. If you want to make an impact in your organization, regardless of your current role, this knowledge is essential. How can you make the right business and career decisions if you don’t understand your company, its products, its market position, and its value to customers?

What they say is true: It’s really all about marketing.

Or, more precisely, creating and sustaining a competitive advantage for your organization is all about cultivating the marketing mentality. The first step? Understanding the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of marketing strategy, and how these are linked to your business and role.

Asking the Right Questions: The Three-Level Map

The first level of the map is the foundation of our marketing strategy. Here, we’re asking “What’s the general situation, the corporate and strategic context in which we’re making marketing decisions?”

At the second level, we use the S-T-P framework (segmentation, targeting, positioning) to narrow our focus to address specific marketing strategy issues. The answers to these questions form your overall marketing strategy:

  • “How do we segment, or break up, the market?”
  • “Given our strategic position in the marketplace, the strategic issues facing our company, and the opportunities available to us, what target market or target markets are most attractive for us?”
  • How do we position ourselves in the marketplace to those target customers, against the competition, to best meet their needs?

The third level of our map is where we execute our marketing strategy by using the four Ps—product, price, place (distribution), and promotion:

  • These tactics must fit together within one coherent strategy in order to deliver your market positioning to your target customers.
  • Strategic pricing is the tactic that most directly impacts your bottom line—not only in terms of being able to attract customers and deliver value, but also in terms of profitability.

Making Better Business Decisions

Even though you may not set market position or pricing in your role, you’re still executing on some facet of your organization’s marketing strategy. To be successful, cultivate a marketing mentality to ensure you’re asking the right questions, making the best possible business decisions, and aligning your activities to the big picture. Becoming fluent in marketing concepts and tools isn’t just a business elective; it’s a necessary, worthwhile investment for you and your organization.