People share a lot of their great communications ideas with you, don’t they? Or they ask you to do things that you know are half-baked, right?

The easiest way to make these conversations more strategic is to ask the three questions that makeup what we call the Quick and Dirty Marketing Plan:

  • Who are we talking to?
  • What are we saying?
  • How will we deliver that message to those people?

These three questions work together in an ever-evolving circle. As you make decisions about one, that affects the answers to the others.

quick and dirty marketing plan questions


So let’s put this to work in your conversations. Here’s how to respond anytime you hear a new idea.

Step 1: Figure out which of the three circles the idea fits in. 

Step 2: Say what you think the answer to a second circle would be, and see if the other person agrees. If they agree, go to Step 3. If they don’t, talk about it until you get an agreement.

Step 3: Figure out the answer to the third circle together.

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Conversation Where They Suggest a Communications Channel

Person You Work With: We really need to get on TikTok. Did you know it’s the fastest growing social media platform in the world?

You (in your mind): TikTok is a channel. That’s the answer to the third quick-and-dirty question, how will we deliver that message to those people. About a third of TikTok users are in their teens and another third are in their twenties — that’s the answer to a second question, who are we talking to. I’ll start there. 

Interesting idea. So about a third of TikTok users are teens, another third are twenty-somethings.

Person: Yeah, I know, but a lot of older people are getting on there too now.

You: So, are you thinking about better ways to reach older people on social, or are you interested in reaching those younger demographics?

Person: Well, really, the older people who donate, I guess. But the younger people need to know about us too.

You: OK, let’s take this one step at a time. Do you want to prioritize donors?

Person: Yes.

You: Then let’s talk about our Facebook and Instagram strategies. Those trend older than TikTok, but Instagram is definitely younger than Facebook.

Person: OK

From here, you can get into a conversation about the third question: appropriate messaging for Facebook and Instagram for donors.

Let’s try another one.

Conversation Where They Want More Messaging on Something

Person You Work With: The dedication of the new walking trail was great, but it doesn’t seem like many people are using it. We need to get some outreach going.

You (in your mind):  This is a request for more messaging. That’s the second quick-and-dirty marketing plan question. I wonder who they expect to see out there? I have some ideas . . . 

So who are some of the people you think should be using the trail? I’m thinking maybe people walking dogs, or people with baby strollers? Or maybe seniors walking with friends? How would you put those groups in order of importance?

Person: Well, yes, all of them. But the last grant we got for the trail was really about wellness for people over 60.

You: OK, so let’s talk about why the walking trail is such a good option for people over 60. Maybe we can emphasize the sections with the non-slip surfacing where it’s flat and well-lit, so it’s an easy, safe walk.

Person: Yeah, that works.

You: Awesome, so now that’s let about how to share that message with seniors. Do you have some ideas on how to reach them?

Person: I don’t know, nursing homes?

You: Well, most people in nursing homes aren’t going to be able to get out to use this trail. Let’s try to figure out where else still-active seniors are going, like maybe the coffee shops and diners where they meet friends for coffee?

Person: Yeah, that makes sense.

You: OK, let’s schedule a time to work through this and figure out who is going to do what. It sounds like we need a new campaign strategy now that the trail is open and the dedication is done.

By using these three questions and working through each of the three circles, you can avoid getting sucked into a lot of tactical work that’s missing strategic thinking!