The 5 W’s of great campaigns

My friend Tracy is a marketing strategist. She tells me that potential clients regularly ask her firm to develop a marketing campaign without first considering strategy:

“We sell blue widgets,” they say. “Create a campaign that helps us sell more of them.”

She always insists on a strategy review. Because she knows that starting with strategy, even for small companies, especially for small companies, is the most cost effective approach and generates the best results.

Every company knows its own products and services. Strategy helps them uncover the “five Ws” that make a marketing campaign truly work.

1. Who will buy?

The number of people who want to buy a product or service like yours next month is a remarkably small slice of the population. In order to find them, you must have a crystal clear picture of who they are.

Are they businesses or people? Large or small? Old or young? Rich or poor? Male or female? Near or far? You’re looking for needles in a haystack so it helps to know what those needles look like.

2. Why should they buy?

This question has two parts: Why should they buy a product or service like yours? And why should they buy from you?

What unsolved problem do they have? What unfulfilled desire do they have? Are they aware that they have this problem or desire? How compelling is their need?

Will their need compel them to buy something? And, if so, why should they buy from you and not somebody else?

These are the fundamental questions of strategy. They determine everythingincluding product design, pricing, packaging, marketing message and medium.

3. Where can you reach them?

There are endless ways to spend marketing money. Endless. And most of them won’t work for you. They’ll waste your energy and your money and you’ll lose precious time.

But now that you know exactly who your potential customer is you have a better idea of how to reach them and you can create a shortlist of marketing approaches to test.

4. What message will resonate?

If the perfect prospect was standing in front of you, what would you say to them to get them to notice you, like you, trust you, and then reach for their purse?

5. How should that message be presented?

Finally, how will you showcase your message? Will you use words? Images? Video? Will you be serious? Humorous? Shocking? What colors, textures and sounds will you choose?

Each of these choices is naturally influenced by the message and medium. But all of them are rooted in knowing who you’re selling to, their compelling problem or desire, and how you differ from the competitive crowd.

Tracy is right: First, strategy. Then marketing.


First published on September 8, 2014