On Easter Sunday three years ago, I learned how to shoot a gun.

My husband and I were spending the holiday with family near Big Barbee Lake in northeastern Indiana and we were in the lull between church and the big meal. The turkey was in the oven. Everyone was hanging out by the campfire. That’s when Uncle Scott decided to bring out the rifle for target practice.

By the time I was convinced to give it a try, Scott had rigged up two chairs—one to sit on and one to balance the gun upon—to help us novices. I gripped the barrel and looked through the gun sight at the row of wood block targets at the edge of the property. I squeezed the trigger. And missed.

My Type A memory gets a little foggy at this point, but I may have missed several more times before my husband stepped in.

Since I’m left-handed, he instructed me to line up the sight with the right side of the largest target to compensate for my natural left-leaning nature. Once I understood how the best place to aim, I scored a direct hit.

My experience with target practice reminds me of the “fire, aim, ready” approach many marketers take for their clients.

Great marketing is not as easy as it looks. It takes plenty of practice to put together a well-constructed marketing plan. Here are a few tips to get marketing target in site before you fire.

Can you see the target?

Occasionally a client can’t—or won’t—explain what he or she needs to make happen. It is easy to get stuck at, “We want to create more awareness.” Your challenge is to get the client to answer the questions, “Why?” and “With whom?”

Even then you are not be ready to pull the trigger. Just as my husband’s lefty tip showed me, you are not always best served by aiming dead center.

Let’s say the client wants more women to buy their product. Is the product aimed at rural or city women? Is it appropriate for Muslims who don’t drink? Would it appeal to someone age 70 or age 24? Is the store in the Midwest or on the West coast?

Great marketers keep asking questions until they are satisfied that they know exactly who they are targeting and what they need to make happen.

Is the target moving?

Even with the most accurate gun, it is much easier to hit a stationary target than one that is blowing in the breeze. Some clients tend to second guess themselves and their advertising team if results don’t come quickly. They may change their minds midstream or, worse, claim your target wasn’t what they were aiming for in the first place.

At Well Done, we make sure our clients approve a creative brief before we start any project, and we include a recap of the goals in nearly every presentation and activity report to keep the target in our sites—and within the client’s.

are you keeping your focus?

New marketing tools seem to pop up daily, and it is easy to get caught up in the hype of the latest, greatest thing. As my colleague, Joe Judd, says, “There is no silver bullet in marketing.” But if you get distracted, you will be using more of a bird-shot approach.

If the client wants to try something new, take a minute to refocus on your target audiences. Will the shiny and new help you achieve your customer’s goals? Will it reach the client’s customers faster or more accurately? If the answer is yes, give it a try. If the answer is no (or even maybe), stay the course.

As with anything, your accuracy will improve with more time spent on target practice—or applying good marketing techniques. If you want to talk with one or our master marketing marksmen, give us a call.

But don’t ask me out to the gun range. I haven’t picked one up since that Sunday.