Although I have a journalism degree, I am not a journalist. I took one news writing class my first semester and quickly realized that I was much more interested in making up stories than I was in reporting them. All that really stuck with me was, “who, what, when, where, why, and how?” And while I’ll argue one needs to do much more than answer those six questions to craft an interesting story, they’re almost all that’s necessary to put together a solid, actionable marketing plan.

Who: The questions about people
Who matters? Who needs to hear from you? Who do they need to hear it from? Who has your audience’s ear? Who can you partner with to grow your influence?

What: The questions about action
What do you need to say? What are you going to do? What would you do if you could only do one thing? What are you NOT going to do? What should you stop doing? What is your competition doing? What should we spend more money on?

When: The questions about timing
When should we launch? When is our audience listening? When are they in the mood to buy? When, if ever, should we go dark? When is each tactic best deployed?

Where: The questions about place (physical, virtual, and otherwise)
Where is our audience looking for information? Where will they be looking tomorrow? Where are they spending their free time? Where should we ignore? Where should we be expanding?

Why: The questions about purpose and value
Why would someone want to buy our product or service? Why are we in business? Why do we expect and deserve to win? Why do one thing and not another? Why do anything at all?

How: The questions that drive creative 
How should we look and sound? How should it feel to interact with us? How should it be packaged and delivered? How should the brand be expressed? How should we set ourselves apart?

Answer those questions thoroughly and clearly, shape them into a story that your organization can rally around, and you’re well on your way to a cohesive and actionable marketing plan.

About Drew Jones

As the managing director of the Two Rivers Marketing creative team, Drew nurtures ideas into creative expressions that motivate. When he’s not at Two Rivers, you might find him along a trout stream in Siberian Russia. You can drop Drew a line at drewj@2rm.com.