I’m all about systems. When developing a marketing plan I use my proprietary “24 Questions,” a follow-the-money rubric. When working on a brand, I have a form simply called “Fact Finding Questions.” Broken into two sections, one for C-level executives, the other for top sales people it asks generic things, e.g., “If you were to get a job at a competitor, how would you deposition your current company?” Stuff like that. Good, but generic.
When working in a new category and having to learn a new language – a language in which I am illiterate – generic doesn’t always cut it.
I’ve worked with a magician and I’ve worked with a top two professional services company. The questions that work for a teeth whitening company don’t translate. So my question framework almost always needs to go off the reservation. The off-the-rezzy questions are always works in progress. They require listening, parrying, redirection and often a good deal of bi-directional story telling.
When I ask an executive or sales person a question that spikes their blood pressure, it’s a hit. Follow that trail. If a hospice nurse is explaining how to tell whether a patient is minutes or hours away from passing, feel the mood. The sanctity.
Learning is the absolute best part of brand planning.