Start with WHY – and Win

Go for WHY

Go for WHY:

List posts have their place, and I know they are good for traffic. I’ve written them, too. But our super-connected world and the constant flow of information seems to be driving us to oversimplify complex subjects and interactions. By creating lists. Lots of lists. In some cases, lists of lists.
I’m not against all lists… I believe in a to-do list, a grocery list and have tweeted & retweeted helpful design tip, font and how-to lists. But not all things can (or should) be reduced to a bulleted list.

If it’s a complex subject, treat it with the depth it deserves. A marketing communications plan, encompassing goals, objectives, strategies, tactics and metrics should be more than a list of items. A public relations plan should be more than a list of ideas or publications and an editorial calendar. When we start to work with a new client we ask a lot of questions about their business… not just about what they sell and who they sell it to, but about things like:

Where does your money come from? Revenue? Profit streams and margins?

What is the recent history of the market segment you inhabit? Near future changes or evolutions you expect? Long-term future or potential?

Adjacent markets? Competitive markets?

What factors in the market and within your company’s revenue map do you control or influence?

We augment with our own research and then we tackle goals and objectives, clearly grounded in the business case for what we’re doing. The marketing communications plan addresses how the goals and objectives fit the larger picture of the business and where it wants or needs to go. When you start with a good WHY, all the WHATs and HOWs become much easier to define and later on to sell to the people who have to sign the checks to see them implemented.


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4 Responses to “Start with WHY – and Win”

  1. J. Michael Thurman January 24, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    Why is “why” always at the end of the “5 Ws” list?

    Okay, that’s not important to the discussion. What is important is this:

    It doesn’t matter whether it’s college,work, or life, “why” is the one question we really should answer.

    What person, incident, or reflection led you to focus one “why”?


    • J. Michael Thurman January 24, 2010 at 10:52 am #

      That’s “…led you to focus on ‘why’?” 😮

      • Mandy Vavrinak April 6, 2010 at 8:25 am #

        It was a conversation with a client, actually… one who didn’t really want to delve into the “why.” I firmly believe in starting with the objectives, and I’ve found that many businesspeople don’t really know their own business that well. They have goal language, but don’t really “get” where their true profit comes from or how to capitalize on it. I don’t let clients off with, “I want to generate more sales” as a goal 🙂


  1. Tweets that mention Start with WHY – and Win « Marketing Places, Spaces, People & Ideas -- - January 22, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mandy Vavrinak and Mandy Vavrinak, J. Michael Thurman. J. Michael Thurman said: RT @Mandy_Vavrinak: Start with WHY – and Win « Marketing Places, Spaces, People & Ideas > latest blog post 🙂 […]

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