Well-meaning teachers reassure their students that there is no such thing as a bad question in an effort to nurture their inquisitiveness and foster their learning. However, some questions are better than others.
Asking good questions is harder when we don’t know very much about something due to our unconscious incompetence (i.e. we don’t know what we don’t know). This is as true for marketing as it is for anything else. Since many business owners don’t come from any sort of marketing background, they tend to obsess over low quality questions like “Where can I find more customers?”
This is an unhelpful question for two reasons. First, there is only one literally correct answer: “everywhere”. Marketers have never been more spoilt for choice. There is an abundance of marketing channels, and more are created every day. The challenge, of course, is filtering this vast array and selecting the most appropriate ones for your particular objectives (a process that demands very different questions).
It’s a poor question for a second reason: it reaffirms an assumption that the key to marketing success is to reach more people. This may have been true in the past when there was a much smaller pool of channels to pick from. However, in a hyper-connected world, you can contact just about anyone, anywhere, at any time. The hard part isn’t reaching people, it’s getting them to pay attention.
So how can you compel more people to listen to what you have to say? That’s a much better question. Which is ironic, because the answer is to ask better questions.
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