Being a marketing coach and consultant, as well as a small business owner myself, one thing I clearly understand is that most small businesses simply aren’t fortunate enough to have an unlimited supply of marketing dollars — money for marketing is typically tight. Therefore, in order to squeeze the most results out of those marketing dollars, a small business must carefully plan, craft, and implement all marketing initiatives.

Now since marketing should never be a one-time thing, I like to batch my marketing into campaigns. Campaigns that have real goals that can be measured — otherwise how do we know if our marketing efforts have been successful or not.

That being said, I’d like to share with you a portion of my marketing planning process that I revisit at the onset of any marketing campaign I engage in — whether for my business or for any of my client’s businesses — it what I call the “5 W’s of Marketing”.

The 5 W’s are simply the “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, and “why” of your marketing and they are as follows:

The First “W”: The “Who”

In a nutshell, this is your target market — this is who you intend on selling your products and/or services to. So who are they exactly? Who are you going to market to?

The Second “W”: The “What”

What exactly are the product and/or service you are marketing? And what are the benefits they bring? If you’re not crystal clear on what you’re really selling, there’s a good chance your target market won’t be either — and a confused mind does not buy.

The Third “W”: The “When”

When it comes to marketing, both timing and consistency are critical. So when do you intend to start marketing your product and/or service? How long do you intend your marketing campaign to last? A common understanding amongst marketers is that on average it takes at least 4 touches or contacts with your target market to just get on their radar, and at least 7 for them to consider buying from you. Therefore, it probably makes sense to plan at least 7 touches into your marketing campaigns. Now it’s also important here to determine at what intervals you will make each touch. In other words, day 1 you’ll get in front of your target market this way… day 3 you’ll get in front of them that way… day 7 this way… and so on.

Rule of thumb: erratic marketing = erratic results… consistent marketing = consistent results!

The Fourth “W”: The “Where”

These are the marketing mediums that you will use for your marketing campaign. Marketing mediums are simply the paths we use to communicate our marketing messages to our target market. So where will you do your marketing? What mediums will you use and why? What mediums does your target market prefer? Knowing how you target market prefers to be communicated with can go a long way here.

The Fifth “W”: The “Why”

This is your purpose for marketing. It defines what you expect to accomplish from your marketing efforts. So why are you planning on marketing your product and/or service in the first place? What results do you expect? Do you want to increase sales… establish your credibility… broaden your reach within your target market… or, all of the above? My point is to just be clear on your “why”.

So in closing, I’m going to be a bit harsh here so hold on to your seat for a moment. Conducting any marketing without being clear on your 5 W’s is essentially negligence — it’s a blatant misuse of your company’s time and money. So my challenge to you is to take the necessary 15 minutes to think through, document, and communicate the 5 W’s of each marketing campaign with all those involved with helping you make it happen.