The Beauty of Asking Why In Marketing

marketing questionsWe know asking questions is important, otherwise how are you going to find out anything.

This is particularly true when trying to find out more about your customers.

However when marketing your brand asking yourself the why questions is often overlooked.

It is a pretty simple way of improving your marketing and finding out if you are heading in the right direction, especially with your marketing tactics.

There are many ways you using the why question and here are a couple:

Why Is This Important?

This could be used for why is it important to your customers, brand, partners etc.

To get the most out of the question you need to give a real answer that means something and not for example saying because everyone else is doing it. To get to the true answer you may need to ask the question a few times.

An example of using this approach is if you are deciding whether it is worth your time and money to buy CRM software. By asking the question you may get these answers:

  • Because I can keep all the information in one place – Why is important?
  • Because I can segment my customers to send out email campaigns – Why is this important?
  • Because I can make sure I offer what they want, strengthen the relationships and keep them as customers – Why is this important?
  • Because it will help build sales and save me from having to always look for new customers

You can go asking questions as there is no limit but as a general rule of thumb I find the real answer comes quite quickly because each time you get more specific answers.

Why Is This Happening?

This question is helpful if there is an issue regarding your business or with your marketing activities.

With this type of question it may be easier to use a mind map or just write a list to keep track of the exercise. For example if you had launched a new product or service and sales were not happening as you expected some of the answers to why is this happening could be:

  • Not enough of my potential customers are aware of the launch
  • There are not enough potential customers to buy the product or service
  • The promotion was too scattered and not single minded
  • Not enough refers from business partners

Often the answers to these questions are obvious however sometimes it is the simple thing of focusing to get to the obvious. By writing down answers it helps with the focus and you can get to the answer more quickly.

Do you have questions that you use to improve the marketing of your brand?


23 Responses to The Beauty of Asking Why In Marketing

  1. Great questions to ask. Asking those questions could also help you overcome your customers objections. Knowing why someone needs or would benefit from your service will help you sell it effectively.

    • Hi Julia,

      They can help you overcome the objections and I often find just jotting them down in a piece of paper lets you focus on the important objections that can hinder your business.

      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Hi Susan,

    You have some Lean principles being applied to marketing here on your blog. That’s very cool! Asking why 5 times is a great way to get to the root cause and applying it to marketing is a great idea. Your Review –> Plan –> Implement –> Track –> statement at the top is basically the Deming Circle (Plan-Do-Study-Act). I am new to marketing but am starting to see how my manufacturing experience will help market my new business. Thanks for sharing.


    • Hi Chris,

      I must admit I have not heard of the Deming Circle and I first learnt the Lean principle over 10 years ago. We were developing the vision and mission for our company for the Asia pPacific region and the funny thing after asking the why questions we came back to what the UK founder had said over 150 years ago. Your manufacturing experience will definitely help Chris.

      Thanks for your comments and I must learn more about the Deming Circle.

  3. Hi Susan. The two basic questions I always have the answer to are the ones that every potential client wants/needs answered – even if they don’t know it LOL. Those questions are:

    1) Who are you?
    2) Why should I care?

    It sounds pretty basic but I find it to be true. Tell your potential customers exactly who you are and what you do and exactly what you can do for them.

    • Hi Julie,

      Love the basic questions because they can reveal so much. Having answers to your 2 questions would go a long way to being clear in front of potential clients and would definitely help the communication.

      Thanks for sharing this Julie.

  4. I’m a big fan of asking why. And I really like how you explain it here Susan for businesses to keep asking themselves this question when looking into their marketing activities.

    I find a lot of businesses focus too much on “How” – How will this get done? How will that get done? I think a little bit of analysis and asking “Why?” will create more understanding, and could generate better marketing results.

    • Hi Fiona,

      Good point about the focus on How and of course action is needed, but as you say a little analysis does help. Like the name of your company and can you share how you get your clients to ask themselves a couple of questions before focussing on how?

      • Hi Susan, Thanks for your feedback on the name 🙂 How? Well, it’s just a matter of discussing it, over the phone, over skype, over email, and just asking a few questions during consultations and/or coaching sessions. Very much along the lines of what Julie was saying. Especially to challenge any existing beliefs that they might have about good avenues for marketing and bad avenues. An example is a financial services company, who thought “cold calling” was still the best way to get clients. So to challenge ideas like this, and to get them more receptive to social media, it was just a matter of asking them “Why?”. “Why decide to focus on this method?” “Why do you think it’s the best method”.

        Asking “Why?” can really stump some people. I hope that explains it a bit better. 🙂

  5. Great post Susan.
    As a coach, I ask my clients open ended questions all day long. Answering the “what”, “how”, & “why” is what really gets to the core our motives.
    Without the depth of understanding, we are simply going through motions with a lessened reliability of outcomes.

    • Hi Keyuri,

      I am sure your clients appreciate your questions especially when they help finding out the answers they need. That is a good point about just going through the motions and it does take more time to get to the answers in the end.

  6. Susan,

    GREAT article and advice. It is very true that it is of the utmost importance to understand the thinking, logic and purchasing patterns of our customers. Too many people, myself included (unfortunately) do things on a whim and just play the trial and error card. It is what separates the Marketing pros from the novices like me. It is the systematic “find out” approach versus the “just do it” road. Had I had all of your advice and wisdom form the beginning, I could have saved myself a lot of time.

    Thanks always for your wisdom and insight!


    • Hi Yoni,

      You seem to be doing pretty well with your approach. The only problem is that it can take up more time as you said. The main thing is to take action and not spend too much time in the analysis stage.

      Thanks for your comment Yoni.

  7. “Why” is I question I have to ask many times a day to clients who have the knowledge that marketing and branding will be important to their endeavor, but who lack the game plan. Recently I was approached to rebrand a company. I asked why. They said “everyone is doing it”. I referred them to Gap’s mistake. They changed their mind. I lost myself a project, but gained myself a client nonetheless. You’re right about writing down the answers. It helps to better visualize.

    • Hi Dennis,

      Good example Dennis and not everyone would have asked that question. Instead they would have taken the project and it could have been a big waste of money for them with little return.