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Why? Good marketing hinges on just one word


A friend reminds me constantly that my favourite utterance is "serendipity". I guess it's because I'm so often struck by occurrences which seem to suddenly converge around a great truth or idea.

An example. A recent discussion with a client had us talking about the essence of a brand (the core of the description) and the need, in communications, to find the single minded proposition - even if the communication has multiple supporting substantiations. We talked about the things that motivate (largely emotional and often subconscious) and the natural inclination towards rational thinking when people talk about communications.

The very next day I was nudged by someone to look at an interesting video. Simon Sinek, author of the book "Start With Why" was speaking on in a lecture called 'How great leaders inspire action'. It turns out that Sinek has a simple model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.

Have a good look at the video. I have and I've been emailing and posting the link to anyone I think would benefit.

In my experience, the principles Sinek talks about present a clear advantage in the following examples:

Marketing myopia limits long term adaptability

History has shown repeatedly that a business or organisation defines itself sustainably with "Why?" as the key question. Nineteenth century railroad companies became rich in the US. Those that survived the social and technological changes of the twentieth century defined themselves as companies seeking to 'provide people with cost efficient means of shifting goods and passengers'. Those that merely saw themselves as 'railroad companies' struggled or died. Movie studios seeing themselves as 'movie studios' rather than 'believers in great entertainment', struggled with the advent of television. Of course the 'believers' adapted and flourished.

So the question for your organisation is; how do you define your business?

Use "Why?" as a genetic code for organisational excellence

Communications and marketing work on emotion. Yet marketing discussions going on within organisations, and processes such as market research, so often naturally gravitate towards the 'rational'.

A good example is where you might ask someone to describe their organisation. More often than not you'll get chapter and verse on 'What' the organisation is or 'How' it does it.

So here's a suggestion. Make a large sign for your office meeting room. You guessed it, it will simply say "WHY?"


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About the author

Fraser Carson is a respected communications and social media consultant, and commentator. He has particular experience and interest in community building, the not-for-profit sector and business development.

Why? Good marketing hinges on just one word

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