Wondering if your marketing message is dancing in the
spotlight right in front of your target market or is busy
cowering by the punch table nowhere near your customer
base? Take this quiz and find out.
1. Overall, you would describe your marketing as:
A. Going strong. You consistently get lots of good leads and
sales from your marketing efforts.
B. Getting better. You're seeing some positive results, but
you're always looking for ways to improve.
C. Flat. Your sales are neither growing nor shrinking.
D. Don't ask.
E. You don't do much marketing. Or any marketing for that
matter. Customers pretty much find you.
2. Your last marketing campaign was:
A. A huge success. It exceeded your expectations.
B. No complaints. You're pleased with your results.
C. Not sure. You didn't notice much change with your sales.
D. A waste of good money.
E. You can't remember your last campaign. In fact, you don't
think you've ever had one.
3. At the last Chamber of Commerce meeting, you bumped
into a woman who you felt would be your ideal customer.
Her response after you introduce yourself is:
A. "I'm so glad I ran into you. I've been meaning to talk to you
in more detail about how your business can help me out."
B. "Oh, I think I remember hearing about you. Tell me more
about what you do."
C. "Sorry. What did you say you do again?"
D. "Who are you?"
E. "Excuse me. I need to refill my drink."
4. While working out at your health club, you find yourself
exercising next to your sister's new boyfriend. Even though
you know he has no interest in your business, he starts
quizzing you about what you do. After you tell him, he says:
A. "Oh, that's interesting." And changes the subject.
B. "Yes, I think I've heard about your business." And
changes the subject.
C. "Yes, I think I saw one of your ads in the paper last week."
And changes the subject.
D. "Oh course. I've been seeing your ads all over the place."
And changes the subject.
E. Changes the subject.
5. You run into one of your customers at a restaurant. He's
sitting with a large group of people, but still jumps up to
greet you. When he turns to introduce you to the rest of the
A. Describes your business perfectly.
B. Gets it mostly right.
C. Manages to describe one aspect okay, although he got a
couple major points wrong.
D. Described someone else's business. At least that's what
you think he was doing. He certainly wasn't talking about
E. Didn't quite get your business' name right. For that
matter, he didn't pronounce your name correctly either.
6. You feel like you're getting your money's and/or time's
worth from your marketing efforts:
A. Most definitely.
C. Not sure.
D. Don't want to talk about it.
E. You're getting a great return -- after all, you spend hardly
any time or money marketing so ANY return is huge.
7. Overall, how would you rate your marketing in terms of
meeting your overall business' goals?
A. Exactly on track.
B. Doing pretty good. For the most part, your marketing is
helping you meet your business' goals.
C. You're still in business so you guess something must be
working. Although you're not exactly sure what.
D. Business isn't so hot.
E. What goals?
Mostly As. Your marketing message is definitely the life of
the party. It's getting in front of your target market and your
target market is responding to it. Better yet, you aren't
wasting your efforts reaching people who have no interest in
what your business does. Great job.
The only caution I would offer is to not allow yourself to be
lulled into a false sense of security. Things change. Markets
shift. Don't allow your current success to blind you to a new
competitor or a new product or a changing marketing
landscape. History is littered with companies who allowed
themselves to lose market share or even be toppled by a
shift in the marketplace.
Mostly Bs. Your marketing message may not be the star, but
it's certainly turning heads. While you could be getting more
from your marketing efforts, you've definitely accomplished
much. Your target market is both getting the message and
acting on it. You're seeing a slow and steady growth in your
While everyone would love to the next "overnight" success,
truthfully that's not terribly realistic. Marketing is about slow
and steady growth ? and even an occasional setback. While
huge marketing success is great as a goal, you should be
very pleased with what you've accomplished.
Mostly Cs. Your marketing message has about half of its
dance card filled. Your business is flat. Probably as flat as
your marketing. Your business is certainly not growing and
may even be slowly declining.
While there's nothing wrong with holding the status quo, this
is still a precarious place to be. If you're not careful, you
could find your business sliding into the "business is not so
I would suggest taking a hard look at your marketing
message. Maybe you're not reaching your target market at
all. Maybe you're wasting your marketing efforts by getting
your message in front of people who will never buy your
products or services. Or maybe you are finding your target
market, but your marketing message isn't persuading them
to do business with you. Maybe the marketplace or your
target market is changing. Or maybe it's a combination of
Mostly Ds. Your marketing message is hiding in the
bathroom and has been there for awhile. This is not a good
place to be, but you already know this. If it isn't too late, I
would suggest a complete revamp of your entire marketing
plan. Maybe your target market isn't right. Maybe you have
too much competition. Maybe you're competing on price
(never a wise selling point). Maybe you're not differentiating
yourself enough from your competition. Maybe you're not
explaining your product correctly. Or maybe it's something
even deeper, a major problem with your product or
But don't lose heart! It's still very possible to turn things
around. Remember, all successful people suffered
setbacks (and downright failures) at some point in their
careers. You can make a comeback.
Mostly Es. Your marketing message is still outside looking
for a place to park. Many service-based, single-person
businesses find themselves in this category ? for instance
consultants, coaches, graphic designers and (ahem)
copywriters. You never really take the time to put together a
marketing plan or market yourself in any orderly manner.
When work falls into your lap, you happily snatch it up. When
it doesn't, you find yourself wringing your hands a lot.
Yes, I too was in this category. When I first started my
business, I didn't write down my goals and promoting
myself was haphazard at best. Believe it or not, I was
actually pretty successful for several years using this model.
I was lucky. I had good, loyal clients who I could count on for
However, even with good clients, you still end up with the
"feast or famine" business model. Does this sound
familiar? Work starts raining from the heavens, so you hole
yourself in your office and focus on, what else? Getting the
work done. And you're so busy with paying work, you stop
promoting yourself. When you finish the work, you pick up
your head, look around and discover there's nothing new
waiting for you. So you rush out, start networking and
contacting people and pretty soon the work is raining down
again. And you stop promoting yourself because you're busy
and?you get the picture.
In this model, you aren't really growing your business. You
don't have time. You're either doing billable work or looking
for billable work. Even if you use outside help during the
busy times, the busy times don't last so you can't build your
Speaking from someone who's been there, I would strongly,
strongly urge you to take a hard look at your business, your
goals and your marketing model. A regular, sustained
marketing campaign can lead to regular, sustained work.
Your cash flow will even out, and you can start outsourcing
certain tasks on a regular basis so you can start growing
(A note on Question 4 in case you thought I had the answers
reversed. The point of this question is to find out if you've
picked marketing vehicles that are reaching your target
market or if your marketing is so scattered it's reaching
people who have no interest in purchasing your products
and services. Don't waste your time and money driving just
anyone to your business ? target people who have the
interest and the means to purchase your products and
Michele Pariza Wacek is the author of "Got Ideas? Unleash
Your Creativity and Make More Money." She offers two free
e-zines that help subscribers combine their creativity with
hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become
more successful at attracting new clients, selling products
and services and boosting business. She can be reached