Marketing questions to ask your prospects

A recent blog post by a Sitepoint reader wondered what kinds of marketing questions web designers should ask prospects, in order to help them see you as a marketing solutions provider. Here are some suggestions:

1. What are your sales goals?

2. How do you get clients now?

3. What problem do you solve for your customers?

4. What is your target market? What are their most pressing issues and concerns?

5. What is unique about your company and its solution? What sets you apart? Why are you better?

6. What proof can you provide that you are better (e.g. testimonials, case studies)?

7. What are the benefits of your solution?

8. How can you educate prospects and customers with executive briefs, articles, newsletters, etc?

9. Did you know that the web can let you follow up automatically with prospects, so you continue communicating to them automatically?

10. What’s your sales cycle like? How do prospects decide to buy.

Add your questions…..

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  • jtrotta

    What level of permission do you have with your clients?

  • drakke

    How do your clients find you?

  • Tvienti

    You lost me on question 9 =/

    What results do you expect from this campaign/project/whatever?

  • aneitlich

    Tvienti:

    Question 9 is all about:

    1. Some offer to capture your prospects’ email.

    2. An autoresponder to keep track of emails (e.g. http://www.1shoppingcart.com).

    3. A system to follow up with prospects automatically, for instance with a series of messages, an electronic newsletter, email mini-courses, etc.

    Any business can benefit from this kind of system. My wife and a friend, for instance, just started up a company that sells products to make parenting easier. They offer free parenting tips to prospects who visit the site and give their emails. This also lets them stay in touch with parents to tell them about new products, offers, etc, in addition to useful tips. (www.MomsonEdge.com).

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    Does your company get government fundings? (if laws about accessibility and other web guidelines are mandatory in your country)

  • aneitlich

    Peach,

    My companies don’t get any government funding, nor would I want them to.

  • MarkB

    I think Peach was suggesting another question to ask clients :)

    Nice list, Andrew! Thanks.

  • aneitlich

    Right, oops.

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    yes that was just another question, haha no worries

  • “Michael Porter”

    I think that a better question may be to first ask yourself – are you a marketer?

    I don’t mean to sound synical – The internet has become a waste land of misguided and thoughtless “strategies”.

    It is extremely apparent that an educated web designer/developer, is not necesarily a marketer – marketing requires it’s own skill-set, and it’s own specialized education, something that is not learnt overnight.

    Vice versa, marketers should not restrice their education to Strat-Man theory and stats…but I think that a general assumption is often made by web designers that marketing is nothing more than common sense – very bad assumption. I know that this shoe can be worn on the other foot.

    To be seen as a marketing solutions provider? You should probably know which questions to ask – if not, you may need to become a marketing solutions provider prior posing as one.

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    Mark did you notice this blog is called selling web design services?

    It’s for webdesigners who want to learn more about Selling, thus marketing, their services. Of course you don’t learn marketing overnight, but I have been reading every single blog entry of Andrew for a couple of years now and I have improved my marketing and understanding of selling incredibly.

  • codescribbler

    I would daresay that just as important as what to ask your prospects is what to ask yourself.

    “What am I selling?”

    “What are they buying?”

    I noticed in another blog that someone described the functions of a website as being either an electronic brochure or a way to sell things online. There is much more that can be done with the technologies we use as web developers. If you stop to really consider what you can do that would make your prospect more money–beyond disseminating their standard information or setting up a shopping cart–you’ll both be better off in the end.

    Are you selling a “website,” or a way for the prospect to increase its value, build customer relationships, and make more money?

  • http://www.ptpnewmedia.com ptpnewmedia

    “It is extremely apparent that an educated web designer/developer, is not necessarily a marketer—marketing requires it’s own skill-set, and it’s own specialized education, something that is not learnt overnight.”

    Hence… this is why I am working on my MBA with a focus in marketing. In addition, my company is differentiating itself by focusing on “creative web marketing” and not just web design/development. Businesses want results. Any one can design/develop a web site.

    However, it takes someone who has a good sense of marketing to help develop a web site that will increase revenues or reduce costs.

    Not just three hours ago I got off the phone with a CPA firm looking to develop a web site. There first question was “how much will it cost”. I am floored at how many people think web sites are a low cost, one time transaction and not an ongoing long term investment. I think a lot of this problem stems from the fact that there are so many “crap companies” out there selling 10 page web sites for $500. $500 will not get anything from us.

    Basically I took a couple moments on the phone to qualify him so that I do not waist 5 hours of my time (or $500) to meet with him only to learn that they are not interested b/c we are too expensive.

    We talked about what the goal of his web site would be. He wanted something basic (don’t they all) with just information about the company and how people can contact them.

    I said that is a great start but how are people going to find you.

    He replied with the search engines.

    I said they can but that is going to require somewhat of an investment. I asked him what if we used your web site as a way to service current clients while helping build a relationship with potential clients.

    We discussed how tax season is coming up and that a cost effective way to market your services would be through e-mail marketing. I told him we would not send e-mails to any one and everyone but only to his current clients as well as potential clients.

    The e-mail newsletters would have tips and articles about managing money and taxes for businesses as well as individuals. This way if a business owner needs help with his personal finances, they now know that this CPA firm can handle it.

    All in all, our conversation boiled down to education and relationship marketing through e-mail. When we got back around to the investment he would have to make in his web site, he was now informed about the kind of return it could have.

    I am not sure if I am going to get this account but I did two very important things on the phone:

    1. I was able to qualify him as a potential client and not waist time or money chasing a dead lead.

    2. I now know that he is interested in more than just a “basic web site” and his brain is starting to see more. I never sold him anything… only informed and educated him about different possibilities. I will follow up with him at the end of the week asking for a meeting so that we can discuss his web marketing opportunity further and begin to help grow his business and service his customers better.

    In conclusion, someone who just designs/develops web sites would not be able to take a company and figure out how they can invest in a web site/web marketing and generate a good ROI. All they would be able to do is deliver a “basic web site”.

  • http://www.redflystudios.com Web Design Ireland

    Why do you want a website?
    What do you EXPECT to gain?
    What do you think I can offer you?

  • Trent Reimer

    Know your client before you start in with this approach. I can guarantee that some clients will be highly put off by such an approach.

    e.g. Like others here I have code commissioned by multi-national corporations. I cannot imagine myself walking in to a corporate client and giving them a marketing lesson! Corporate clients have their own marketing people who have gone over all these facets and many, many more in great detail. They have absolutely no marketing questions for me whatsoever. They approach me for technical expertise, period.

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    good post ptpNM. Im also planning on choosing Marketing for my MBA, when I finish my bachelor.

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    wait I misunderstood MBA, I meant choosing Marketing in my Economics study and then get my Masters in Marketing.

  • Keith

    Andrew:

    You’re right on. My mentor of last ten years always formulated a series of questions that would lead the prospect the conclusion that his company was the only choice. He always said, “I’ve never sold anything to anyone . . . I’ve always asked the right questions.”

    He built a very successful business by doing that. He sold it a few months ago for $26.5 million.

  • Little Fish

    Yes, marketing is a very specialized field, and I don’t promote myself as an expert on Web marketing. I do however know alot about how a page should be coded, and the value of keywords and domain names in search engine ranking. I advocate that promotion should be built into the design, not an afterthought. My angle is that where many designers are just designers, I am a Web site developer, in the sense that I am helping the client to develop their online presense.

    Regardless of your level of expertise, the questions posed at the beginning of this thread, especially for clients who are new to the Web, should be asked. Whether they are asked to the client or are things you need to figure out before you design the site is up to you.

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    domain names are hardly relevant to search engine rankings.

  • Little Fish

    Proove it.

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    Well I don’t have any solid reverse engineering studies at hand but I think most SEO experts agree that keywords in url’s and domain names do not directly boost your rankings. From my experience I learned that keywor-rich url’s help with targetted link building because people linking to you with your url automaticcaly use proper anchor text, major SE do not consider the url/domain itself as an important onpage ranking factor, such as the title tag.

  • Little Fish

    But doesn’t it make a site more relevant if your URL matches the page title, h1 tag and content, thereby raising the ranking?

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    like I said. hardly.

  • Little Fish

    I find that really hard to believe, espcially with these companies that are gobbling up genaric domain names. I guess they are operating under false pretenses also.

    Even so, picking the right domain name is intigral to company’s branding, that their URL(s)say who or what they are, (and we’re back to marketing).

    Cheers.

  • Dubai

    Hi All

    I really liked the questions listed above
    It was so helpful that i can use it in my next marketing department interview

    thank u so much

    best regards,