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I recently worked on a blog post for IT consultant Coyote Creek about a technical problem that one of their software engineers ran into during a project. Listening to the process that he went through to determine why things weren’t working got me thinking about questions. The “right” questions can help you find the answers you need – or at least move you in the direction of finding a solution. The “wrong” questions can be an unhelpful waste of time.


If the answer to a particular marketing problem is eluding you, sometimes what you need to do is ask different questions. As survey writers have long known, how you ask a question can have a significant impact on the answers you get. Here are some ideas for changing things up:

  • Ask from various angles – For example, my new client interview includes the following questions: “what problems does your product solve for your customers,” “what benefits do you offer,” and “what do people like about your product?” Although these questions are all related, they often produce very different answers. Why? Because they get the business owner to think about things in a different light.
  • Turn the question around – Sometimes the question itself could be limiting your answers. If you’re asking “what is the sum of 6 + 6?” there’s only one answer – which may or may not be the one you need. But if you change the question to “what two numbers can be added together to equal 12?” the possibilities expand.
  • Ask the opposite – Similar to turning the question around, this can also be like playing “devil’s advocate.” For example, instead of “how can we reach our target market of preschool directors?” try “what would motivate preschool directors to want to contact us?”
  • Ask “why?” – This can be a great way to dig deeper. Say you’ve discovered that your target audience wants to buy high-tech gizmos like yours because they’re interested in the latest technology. If you fail to ask “why?” you might mistakenly focus on the technology itself, not realizing that the reason they’re interested in the latest technology is that they want bragging rights in front of their peers.

Are you asking the right questions? If the solutions are eluding you, the answer just might be “no."


Baker’s Village is a “destination” garden center serving the Columbus, Ohio area. In addition to carrying the largest selection of annual, perennials and herbs in the state, they also offer a great selection of shrubs and trees, gardening supplies, silks, and gift items. In fact, a very popular product category in their gift shop is their extensive supplies for “fairy gardening.”

When Baker’s Village asked why fairy gardening is so popular in the Midwest, they found out that enthusiasts love creating perfect, imaginary worlds for the fairies to inhabit. It’s all about the fantasy! With that in mind I wrote the search engine optimized text for all of the category pages in this section of their website, such as the Food and Arbors pages.

What Others Are Saying

"Each time I work with Linda, I am reminded just how well she understands marketing. Linda understands the principles of marketing on a psychological level. She sees the bigger picture. She is pragmatic, insightful and incredibly fast."

Kristine Putt,
Owner and Brand Identity Designer, Paragon Moon