Quiz: Where is Your Marketing Message?

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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 group, he:

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 your business.
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.
B. 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 business.

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 good" category.

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 things.

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 business.

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 repeat projects.

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 business.

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 your business.

(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 services.)

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 at

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