Every media marketing strategy starts with a long list of questions. To make sure you knock it out of the park, it should also come with a long list of answers.

Here are five of my favorites.

What is your budget?

We understand that many smaller businesses don’t have a set marketing budget; sometimes they set money aside for certain promotions and hope to make enough money to more than offset the costs. While we can work with what you give us, I would encourage you to create a set budget for marketing so that you can be more strategic and cost-effective with your marketing efforts. According to this article from the Wall Street Journal, most marketing budgets today are 11% of the total company budgets but vary widely by industry. How does this compare with your business?

What is your timeline?

I’d love to answer this question for you. Your timeline should always be as long as possible to compound the efforts made throughout its duration. Short bursts of media attention have their place, but marketing efforts are far more effective if spread out and planned months in advance to take advantage of bulk media buys.

What are your goals?

And don’t say, “Make more money.” That isn’t a goal; it’s the result of achieving your goals. Be specific. Things like “I want to target a younger demographic to add longevity to my business model” or “I want to expand my reach on digital” or “I want to optimize my social media for consumer engagement” are a good start.

What strategy works best for your type of business?

Having worked with a variety of clients throughout Omaha and the United States, we at MediaSpark know better than most that there is no one-strategy-fits-all in marketing. And that’s why we customize our approach each and every time. Do you prefer a hands-on approach? Do you like data-driven reports? How risk-averse are you? How experimental are you willing to be? Do you like blazing trails or do you prefer increasing your space on the established pavement?

What does success look and feel like?

Here you can talk about money, but only in specifics—year-over-year growth, campaign success, the number of qualified leads generated, etc. But I also encourage clients to think more broadly. Think about success in terms of your energy, your time, the happiness of your employees, the happiness of your customers, and your company’s reputation. Success isn’t always measured in data points; to be truly successful, it has to feel that way, too.

I realize this may sound a little woo-woo, but hear me out; much of determining a marketing strategy has to do with setting realistic expectations. And much of realistic expectations has to do with separating what you want from what is possible given the data we currently know to be true. Understanding what is within your control—and what is not—is an important part of understanding not only the success in marketing efforts but also the success in of your company as a whole.

Knowing how you measure success is just as important as how you define that success. You just have to tell us what you want to know, and we’ll take it from there. The data will speak for itself.