By Ken Gasque

List making has been an activity that I have enjoyed since I was in elementary school. I think it started with books I wanted to read. I liked checking them off and watching my progress. Another of my favorite lists was quotations. I still have the list I first did, and my list of quotations now is over 30 pages long and can be sorted by author and subject matter.

I carry a pocket journal that has dozens and dozens of lists, everything from weekend projects, this quarter’s projects, and this year’s projects. Lists of flowers I want to plant to art exhibits I want to see this year.

Besides just keeping personal lists of favorite beer or best steaks, lists can be great marketing tools. But first, you need to warm up, so here are some suggestions for overcoming writer's block and getting your mind engaged in a pleasurable activity… list making.

Make a list of the following (I suggest you keep it in a pocket journal because you will think of other answers, different from the ones you give right now, and you will think of other lists):

  • List your 6 best friends.
  • List your 7 best days.
  • List 8 of your greatest moments (most ‘best memories’ are moments not days).
  • List 11 people who have had the greatest influence on your life.
  • List the 5 things you did last year that were fun.
  • List 5 places you want to see.
  • List the 6 best trips, vacations or journeys you ever took.

Can you share your lists with your spouse, family, and friends? It will make for some very interesting discussions and great conversations. You will probably get some ideas for other lists you want to make.

But how does this figure into marketing? This is a discovery process. You want to know what differentiates your business, products and services. To really discover this is a very difficult process. This discovery process, making lists of questions and listing things to do, is a way to make that process easier. These questions, lists, and answers will keep you focused.

In your journal, make a list of a hundred questions about your marketing, branding, and advertising. Do the entire list in one sitting. Write quickly, don’t worry about spelling. What is magic about a hundred questions? Usually, it is 80 or so questions before you are likely to see themes emerge and begin to discover things (if the questions are coming easily, add more).

This is the first step — getting the questions.

The second step is studying the questions, and this will generate more questions and reveal more opportunities.

  • What do I want to accomplish with my marketing?
  • List 8 ways we can have more fun.
  • List 3 things you could do to make your product different, unique.
  • How can my label increase sales?
  • What are 3 things your competitor does that you can’t do to your product or service.
  • What do you do better than your competitor?
  • List 8 personas you have as customers. (Describe your best customers.) Problems are nothing more than cleverly disguised opportunities.
  • What are 5 opportunities you need to solve by _______.
  • List 5 things you could change to make your product more unique.
  • Review Marketing Magic for ideas you can use.
  • List 3 things you wish to achieve by the end of the year.
  • If anything were possible, list 4 things that could enhance your product.

You can continue making your list. Ask as many questions as you can, keep it in a journal, and continue adding. Share the information with your staff and listen to their input.

Last step. Review your list daily. Focus will get you there.

About Ken Gasque. Ken Gasque is a brand developer, marketing planner, and designer who believes if you help people get what they want you will get what you want. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies that recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box thinker on advertising, branding, and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on his experiences developing brands (good and bad). www.gasque.com