How to Conduct a Needs Assessment

needs assessment, Matt Coen, Second Street Promotions Lab, Shweiki Media Printing
When conducting a needs assessment, one should explain how they can serve as a solution to the challenges that a company is facing.


Here Matt Coen of Second Street Promotions Lab  explains how to do a proper needs assessment…

In order to conduct an effective needs assessment conversation with advertisers, one needs to prepare before each and every sales call. Advertisers don’t have time to educate a media company on their business, so it’s up to the salesperson to educate themselves as much as possible before picking up the phone or walking through the door.

The more that a salesperson knows about their potential advertisers before they begin, the better-positioned they will be to help solve the advertisers’ challenges. After all, unless one demonstrates the fact they’ve done extensive research and presents a good solution, why would an advertiser believe that their problems could be solved?

What to Research

Here are some areas one should research about potential advertisers before meeting with them…

1. Their Emails

Does the advertiser send emails regularly? When they do, what is their message? Where are they driving people?

2. Their Competitors

If possible, one should figure out what businesses in the same category are spending on advertising in that market. How much are they spending, and how are they allocating it? This information will help one understand what these advertisers value and what audience they are trying to reach.

3. Their Calendar

Do they have any upcoming events? It’s important to pay attention to seasonal opportunities, holiday-related celebrations, major sales, openings, and so on.

4. Their History 

What kind of advertising does the advertiser already do? It’s important to know if they’ve already worked with one’s company in the past.

After doing this preliminary research, one will be able to avoid asking questions that waste an advertiser’s time, which results in making one look unprepared and unprofessional.

Questions to Ask During a Needs Analysis

Once you have done your research, you can focus on the questions that will be valuable, like the following:

  • How do you see your business growing in the next 3 months or year? Do you see anything holding back your growth?
  • What are your goals for business growth in the next 3 months or the next year?
  • Do you have any sales goals for the next quarter you are looking to hit?
  • What are your key challenges when it comes to driving foot traffic?
  • Is there something big on the horizon that you haven’t already announced? A new location, product, or service?
  • I see that you have a presence on [social channel]. Is there anything that you are struggling with or trying to do to increase your engagement on that channel?
  • Tell me more about your social media strategy.
  • How much of a priority is your email list?
  • I see that you’re sending a regular email newsletter. What is the size of your list and how are you trying to grow it?
  • Who is your target audience? Your ideal customer?

Based on the advertiser’s answers to the questions asked during a needs assessment, one can more effectively answer their challenges with solutions that one offers. It’s important for one to learn how to choose the right promotion type to meet their goals – and that of their advertisers.


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Matt Coen

Matt Coen is the Co-founder and President of Second Street, the leading provider of online promotions platforms and partner success services for the media industry. Coen also teaches entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2006, Coen Co-Wrote and Produced the award winning documentary Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? Coen began his career in media technology at Pulitzer Technologies as Director of New Business and Product Development. Coen is a native of Rhode Island who loves spending time with his family, sports, politics, travel, and serving on a number of community boards.
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