The WHY Game in Marketing

10/08/2014

By Lee

the-why-game

There is a fun game I play with my kids. We call it “The Why Game”.

It’s actually really simple. In fact, we stole it from Disney’s Pinnochio. (Watch 10:33-11:10) Here’s the script:

Geppetto: Now close your eyes and go to sleep.
Pinocchio: Why?
Geppetto: Everybody has to sleep. Figaro goes to sleep – and Cleo – and besides, tomorrow, you’ve got to go to school.
Pinocchio: Why?
Geppetto: Oh, to learn things and get smart.
Pinocchio: Why?
Geppetto: [starts to fall asleep] Because.
Pinocchio: Oh.

The main idea here is to ask why over and over again until your answers become ridiculous, or you just come to a dead end unsure how to answer anymore. With kids, this game provides endless laughs.

In the world of marketing, it is very useful and revealing tool.

Most everyone is aware of the TED talk by Simon Sinek where he explained the power of beginning with “the why”. This practice helps us to clearly define who we are as a brand or company, and what we stand for. This, of course, empowers us in our marketing and messaging as we seek to influence and persuade our audience.

But in addition to this I would suggest using the why game as well. For example:

“Why do we think our core message should be __________?” And then follow that answer up with at least 4-6 more why’s to come to a fuller understanding of the foundational reasoning. This will allow you to assess more clearly if the reasoning is sound.

Consider this fictitious example for Home Depot that underscores the power and implications of their tagline:

Why is our current tagline: “You can do it. We can help?”

Answer: Because we believe in empowering people.

(Now this may be a sufficient and reasonable answer at which point many would stop, but watch what could happen by asking why a few more times.)

Why is our current tagline: “You can do it. We can help?”

Answer: Because we believe in empowering people.

Why?

Answer: Because when people feel empowered they act, and they’re more likely to act by coming to our stores.

Why?

Answer: Because if we are consistent in our advertising, continually sounding this messaging in their ears, our audience will come to believe they really can do it and we really can help.

Why?

Answer: Because that is the power of marketing psychology. And if we will effectively employ this messaging we can influence more people to buy from us than from our competitors.

Why?

Answer: Because the message is coming from us, not from them.

Oh.

This is just one example where understanding the reasoning at a deeper level allows for the principle to be more clearly established internally. This leads to better performance by that internal team.

Of course, this can work the other way as well. Sometimes playing the why game will cause us to find our first answer was not sound reasoning and we should move on to a better alternative.

The Why Game is a powerful tool. We don’t want to overuse it to the annoyance level but asking, “why do we do what we do and believe what we believe” will help us have more impact in our marketing messaging. This will help us solidify our core message every time.

This entry was posted in: Advertising, Branding, Content Marketing, Uncategorized

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