An Orange Creamsicle cake. The perfect end to my perfect meal at Geronimo in Santa Fe. Good enough for the kid in me to wish I’d had it first – and that’s when it dawned on me why so many advertising dollars are wasted.
Instead of starting with the meat of a marketing strategy, businesses jump to the “dessert” of media selection. That’s why the typical marketing meeting quickly devolves into:
“I want to do some TV. Let’s do some billboards. Do some radio and we’ll see traffic.”
This kind of do this and do that discussion leads to nothing but advertising do-do.
Seeing before doing
Before actually doing anything, we normally have a goal and a larger strategy, even on the mundane, day-to-day level. Most of us don’t just get up from our chairs and then wonder why; we decide we need to perk up and the best way to accomplish that would be another cup of coffee. In other words, we start with why, then we picture ourselves getting the coffee and perking up, and only then do we get up.
People who don’t do that – guys who just get up and wander around are usually patients in some kind of institution. The very aimlessness and irrationality of their behavior is characteristic of the mentally unbalanced. If only we had that same clarity in business!
What’s your WHY?
Before DOing takes control of your next project, look at the bigger picture and ask yourself: Why are you in business? Is what you’re considering leading there? What are the alternatives? What’s your timetable? Keep going until you see it specifically. Write it down.
Be prepared: this will take more than a one-time five-minute sit-down. I work on mine at night before turning in. Then, look at it briefly in the morning.
Expressing your WHY in a dozen words or less helps you understand where you are now, what you want to be in the future. It clarifies what you need to DO. There’s one more step to getting the most from WHY:
Ask the compass question
Get a piece of paper and a marker. Write WHY? in big letters. Hang it above your computer monitor. Next time you’re moved to DO something, look up and see through this lens of purpose.
Are you jumping on twitter? Why? What’s the purpose and goal? Are you writing a bog post? What’s the objective and how does it fit in with your brand’s reason for being?
WHY? is the one word compass question. Follow where it leads.
WHY gives you three choices about what to DO:
- If it leads you away from what you’ve envisioned, stop. Abandon it.
- If it doesn’t move you one way or the other, set it aside.
- If it sparks acceleration toward your vision, pour gasoline on it.
The best dessert is success
Let your WHY be your guide. Once you codify the Purpose – or the WHY – of your company, you’ll be delighted at how much less do-do you have to wade through.
It’s not easy. Few will do it. No worries. That just leaves more Orange Creamsicle cake for us.