Five W’s

A Formula for Lead Generation

Many of us are familiar with the Five W’s: who, what, when, where and why. These are the questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering, and constitute a formula for getting the complete story on a subject.

As the owner of Creativeworks, a marketing agency dedicated to increasing marketing for SMB’s, I also rely on the Five W’s when creating online marketing campaigns for our clients, to ensure that the campaign is rooted in clear objectives and methods.



However, we have re-examined this formula, and identified specific questions which work better when asked in a specific manner. I am pleased to report that this modified Five W’s strategy has resulted in many successful online campaigns for our clients. Here is an outline of our formula, with descriptions to help you better prepare for your next online campaign.

  1. Why before who: Why have you chosen online advertising?  Consider why you are creating the campaign: is it to generate actual sales leads, raise brand awareness, or to test the market on a product or service?
  2. Setting the What:  Setting your objective or objectives for your online campaign is key. What do you hope to achieve from this campaign? Be as specific as possible.  E.g. We want one new client worth $10,000 in sales per year.
  3. Keep your eye on Who:  You’ll need to be clear on who you are targeting this campaign to. Knowing why you are doing this, and what you hope to achieve, will help you determine who you are trying to attract or engage. If, for example, your objective is to promote your brand name and have several dozen product downloads, then you may want to cast a wide net. Afterwards, analyze your results, and see what type of person is interested in what you’re selling.
  4. Timing is everything:  For our online marketing purposes, When refers not only to when you want to place your ad, but also about frequency.  With some online marketing vehicles, you can specifically run your ad on Tuesday mornings only, for example.  You will also need to consider how long the ad will run for.  Depending on why you are running your ad, it may help you determine if you want to run it for weeks, or a few days. You can also run a campaign on-and-off again, with a two day on, two day off type of approach. Think here about why you are running the campaign, and who your audience is.  For example, if you know your audience is online at night during the weekends, then a campaign targeting this time and frequency makes the most sense.
  5. Where You Put it: In any type of marketing, where you place your ad is crucial to success. But for online marketing, although we generally know who the audience is on LinkedIn vs. Facebook, for example, you really need to spend some time doing some research into all of the possible venues for online campaigns. Where can you place your ad to give it the best chance of being seen by your target audience? “Where” is our last step because all of the previous steps help set the stage, and this last step is where you lay your head.  Spend as much time on this step as you can: the success of your campaign may depend more on the “where” than you might think!

No matter how you incorporate the Five W’s into your next online campaign, I am confident that following our formula outlined above has worked for many of my SMB clients, and will help you in achieving success in your next online campaign.

Although “how” is often part of the Five Ws formula, I wanted to discuss the first five steps, which are more strategic in nature, before discussing the “how”, which is more of the tactical aspect of a campaign. With the strategy in place, you’ll be able to better create the actual lead gen tactic.  I’ll share this aspect in next week’s blog.

What type of formula do you use in your online marketing? Are your findings similar to our own results? Let me know in the comments below.