Three Questions Every Marketing Strategist Should Ask

This is a guest post by Jon Turino, a marketing strategy consultant in Portland, OR. Learn more at

There are probably as many models for marketing strategy development as there are marketing strategists. Many are based on the producer oriented four P’s model of Product, Price, Promotion and Place. There are also two “four C’s” models. Plus another model recently described in the Harvard Business Review, reinterprets the four P’s model by evolving products to Solutions, place to Access, price to Value, and promotion to Education—SAVE, for short.

Without making any judgments about the appropriateness of any of the models as a proper framework for developing a marketing strategy, I like to ask three critical questions at several key points in the strategy development process. I call them the 3 M’s – Markets, Messaging and Media, none of which seem to get much attention in the traditional marketing models.


By markets I mean asking ourselves the questions that will make sure we understand who our real target markets are. If we don’t know that, we risk falling prey to “spray and pray” tactics that are woefully expensive and inefficient. Who is most likely to become a customer for the product or service that we are promoting as a solution? We really need to know that to market effectively.


The next of the three M’s is messaging. By messaging I mean making sure that the messages we develop for delivery to our real target markets truly resonate with those people. We need to create messages that stir both brains and bellies, where we “go for the guts” to arouse primal instincts that will incite the fulfillment of the prospects’ needs, wants and desires. Think in terms of the hierarchy of needs here – creating messages that will resonate with both the physical and psychological parts of the target market prospects.


Then there are lots of media choices available for getting those messages to the markets we’ve identified. Print, broadcast, telemarketing, Internet, social media, text messaging. We need to ask ourselves which ones will be most effective in delivering our messages. We need to make sure that the delivery mechanism technology is compatible with the kinds of technology that our target markets are comfortable in using to absorb messages. Texting might be perfect for the techno-savvy but is it right for the elderly? We need to think about this during each phase of the marketing strategy development process.

I like to think of the three M’s as tools to help keep marketing strategy development in the right context regardless of the model, template or method used to put the formal strategy together. We can’t lose sight of who we’re trying to market to, what messages will move them toward a purchasing decision and how we’re going to get those message across to them. No matter what product, price, promotion, place, solution, access, value and education constraints we are dealing with.

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