Asking Why

You Should Always Ask Yourself Why?

Posted on March 16, 2012 · Posted in Workload

I often wonder when we stop asking why – or maybe the more pertinent question is why we stop asking why – and simply accept and move on. As business people and marketers we’d do well to take a lesson from a two year old and start questioning again. I guarantee that if you do, you’ll uncover ways to save time and money, to better market your business and to avoid being baffled and swindled by the less ethical among us.

WHY I AM WRITING ABOUT THIS?

There is a recurring theme in the work I do. Every so often a prospect will come to me who is already working with another company on some aspect of their marketing. My new prospect will begin telling me what Vague Marketing Company is doing and inevitably I will ask, ‘Why?’

Many times my prospect sort of shrugs and says, ‘I don’t know.’ Now, there are a lot of bad answers to that question but not knowing is probably the worst.

It makes me want to pound the not-knowing out of them. In the end, I just feel sorry for them. Could things be going really well with Vague Marketing Company? Could my prospect be getting a fantastic return on his investment? Well, considering he called me, I doubt it, but how would he ever know? It makes me crazy every time someone says it. By now I’m 51 cards short of a deck thanks to people who don’t know.

So I’m writing this because if I can help you escape the quagmire of not knowing, then it will have been worth it.

BUT WHY DON’T YOU KNOW?

A wrong answer is better than not knowing. A convoluted answer is better than not knowing. A stupid answer is better than not knowing. But not knowing means you haven’t even shown intellectual curiosity or an emotional investment in your own business. That simply doesn’t make sense.

I get it. We’re busy and we want to hand the reins to an ‘expert’ who will just deal with it and leave us to our jobs. Or sometimes we just go on autopilot because we heard that we’re supposed to be doing something and so we follow the leader. But this is truly a recipe for disaster. You don’t need to be a marketing expert to understand what someone else is doing in the name of your business. You don’t need to micromanage to be confident in your marketing plan.

I’m a believer in letting the professionals do their jobs. When I call the electrician to my house I don’t ask why he’s twisting the little wires together or why he’s capping the ends. But when he tells me I need to do a £1,000 overhaul, I ask why.

Don’t think it’s not the same as marketing and running a business. I’ve watched people do £1,000 overhauls on their websites without the faintest notion why they were doing it. Or run a £1,000 print ad with no way of measuring its return.

This doesn’t have to be you. You don’t need to micromanage any more than you need to relinquish all common sense. You just need to ask why.

DON’T WAIT FOR THE EXPERTS TO TELL YOU. ASK ‘WHY’ NOW

I really want you to become a curious three year old for a minute and start asking questions about your business and your marketing. Ask why until you want to roll your own eyes and say, ‘Because I said so, that’s why.’ And then I want you to ask why again. Pick anything. Pick everything. Ask yourself why you’re doing it.

Don’t assume that just because you’re doing something that you have a motivation for it. Nobody is exempt from mistakes, but let’s learn and vow to ask why from now on.

SOME IMPORTANT ‘WHY’ QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD BE ASKING

As they say in all good recovery programs, you must first recognise and acknowledge your weaknesses before you can address them. So here is my plan for recovering ‘I don’t knowers’.

Next time you’re about to start something new, whether it’s jumping into email marketing, redesigning your website or something as small as adding a single additional post to your Facebook timeline, ask why. Once you get to the root of why, you can start making some value judgments and really evaluating whether you’re doing things for good reasons, and whether those things are working.

  • Why am I redesigning my website? Is it old? Broken? Failing to covert? Or did someone tell you it ‘needs’ to be redesigned?
  • Why do I even have a website? Sounds like a strange question, but… why do you? Branding? Showcasing products? Generating sales? Building an email list? Is it actually doing any of those things or just floating around somewhere amongst the internet?
  • Why am I using that font? Does it make a statement? Reinforce your brand? Or did it just look cool in the list of the other 500 fonts that came installed on your computer?
  • Why did I choose that color? Is it part of your brand? Creating an emotion? Or does it just match your shoes?
  • Why is my newsletter signup box at the bottom of the page? Did you find it was the best place for getting sign-ups or was it the only space left on the page after you were done sticking in the rest of the content

Once you know the reasons you can begin evaluating their validity. You’ll have a better understanding of whether your site is meeting its goals and what you can do to improve.

  • Why do you have a Facebook page? To generate leads? Communicate with customers? Or because someone told you social media was the cool thing to do?
  • Why do you post there as often as you do? Do you get the best engagement that way? Do you have a lot to share? Are you bored?
  • Why do post there at the times that you do? Do people respond best at the times you’ve chosen? Does it fit into your daily schedule best? Or are you just sticking a few sentences in the status box because you happened to remember?
  • Why do you post the types of content that you do? Do people like what you post? Do they comment? Or do you hear the sound of chirping crickets?

Be honest. Don’t pretend it’s a great marketing opportunity if you’ve got 63 fans, all of whom are your old high school friends and you mum, none of whom bother to comment or engage, except for that one crazy girl who borrowed your math book that one time.

These are just a few ideas, but don’t stop there. Ask…

  • Why am I sending an email newsletter?
  • Why am I running that print ad?
  • Why am I printing business cards?
  • Why am I blogging?

It doesn’t matter what the strategy or marketing piece, you must know why you’re doing it and what you want to achieve. Otherwise you could end up with 800 leftover brochures and halfway into a project to nowhere.

I’ll leave you with one final thought as long as we’re acting like curious two year olds. And it’s as easy as ABC: Always Be Challenging. Never accept and move on. Not when your time, money, reputation, brand and business success are at stake.