I was administering a webinar with a panel of experts recently and as I went through the registration data, I took note of the questions asked of the panelists in advance. There were a number of questions that could have been answered in four or five seconds with Google to the satisfaction of the querants.
What a wasted opportunity!
I want to share with you some advice I received from one of my teachers, Stephen K. Hayes:
When in the presence of a master teacher, pick one burning question to which you must have the answer and ask that. There's a strong possibility you'll only get one shot, so make it count.
This is as true in marketing as it is on the floor of the dojo. Take some time when you register for an event, a conference, or class to think of questions for the teachers, experts, presenters, etc. that you really and truly need answers to, answers you haven't gotten anywhere else. Write up a list of questions for yourself, Google all of them, and then note the ones where Google simply couldn't help you. From that list, then pick the one question that you believe will absolutely, positively change your business, your habits, your practice, etc., the one question that you mentally scream, "If only I had the answer, everything would be better!". Then ask that question to your teacher.
Here's another indicator that you've got a question that's worth asking as your one shot. If you're asking for a diagnosis, chances are you're not going to get a very satisfying answer. It's almost impossible for anyone to effectively assess what's right or wrong with a marketing program in a short amount of time. If you're asking how someone would solve a problem you're encountering (bonus if you can explain what you've already tried in a very tight, compact way), you'll probably get a much better answer.
For example, someone recently asked me, "Hey, can you take a look at my blog and tell me why I'm not getting any traffic?" There are a billion different answers here, and in the scope of this question, none of them are going to move the needle for the querant. If they had asked the question differently, such as, "My blog isn't getting enough traffic. I've done all the basic SEO work, installed the right plugins, listed and verified my sitemaps, set up PPC, and done all of the things you recommended in posts X, Y, and Z on your blog. I'm not competing for an overly generic term. My traffic sources indicate that almost no traffic is coming from search, but Webmaster tools isn't showing any errors. What things haven't I thought of?"
Once you've boiled down your burning question to the one question that will make the most difference to you or your business, ask that of the expert, the teacher, the presenter. Like my teacher said, you may only get one shot. There's a very good chance they'll be delighted to hear something different than the same 5 questions over and over again and give you real feedback that can move the needle for you.
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