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Digging Deep to Unearth Marketing Gold

Unearth marketing gold

This classic Big Brand System post shares an important question we can all ask to get to the heart of our marketing message. It may seem too simple to be effective, but this exercise is powerful.

The magic question that gets at the heart of all marketing efforts is:

And that's important because?And that’s important because?

It’s a question that helps you to make your small business marketing more effective, because it starts with the obvious, and forces you to dig deeper.

When you’re done, you’ll know exactly how to target your message, because you’ll understand what really motivates your target market.

Let’s see what asking this question does in practice.

Here’s an example:

Your business sells yoga accessories. Let’s get down to the heart of what you are really selling. If we dig into the real meaning behind your marketing message this is how the process might go:

“We sell yoga accessories.”

And that’s important because?

“Our products help you practice yoga more efficiently.”

And that’s important because?

“When you practice yoga efficiently, you improve. As you improve, you want to practice more.”

And that’s important because?

As you practice more, you feel better. Your physical and emotional life are in balance.

And that’s important because?

When your physical and emotional life are in balance, you’re happier.

Now We’re Getting to the Heart of Things

When you can dig down to a basic emotion like happiness, you’re reaching a marketing message that will resonate with your target market on the deepest levels.

“And that’s important because?” becomes your shovel.

Use it to dig down beneath the surface of every marketing message you’d like to use. Ask this question until you can’t ask it anymore.

Don’t stop until you’ve reached basic human needs like happiness, security, status, the desire to be loved, the need for power or control, the search for peace of mind, or the yearning for more free time.

When you position your product or service as meeting one of these basic human needs, your target market responds because they share this desire.

How can you dig beneath the surface of your marketing message to find the basic human needs lying under the surface?

Tell me how your digging goes in the comments.

Pamela Wilson

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38 thoughts on “Digging Deep to Unearth Marketing Gold”

  1. Pamela,

    This is a great spin on asking the question “why.” It provides a lot more depth and focus at the heart of things. I’ll definitely be using this question as part of my marketing framing from now on.

    I love the fact that you got into basic human needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can serve as a good foundation to work from when framing marketing efforts. It can even help with how you position your marketing, IE: are you serving a basic need or are you marketing to someone who needs to be self-actualizing?

    Great post!

    • Jason, big fan of “why?”
      Used it several times yesterday with a Healthcare CEO.
      (And would it be wrong to mention our lunch meeting was at Disney’s Magic Kingdom?)

      PS. Great post Pamela. “And that’s important because” forces an important answer.

  2. I can see where that works well with a product line or even a nonfiction book or a program but how would this work for someone who writes and sells her own fiction? I can see it as an escape for the reader, a way to get away from it all, to rejuvenate but am I not seeing something here?

    • That’s a tough one, Donna. Can you look at each individual piece as a “product” that delivers something specific? For example, one piece might help the reader to feel more empowered, one might be about escapism, and another might be about seeing the world differently and broadening horizons.

      It might help to see each story individually, because you can position them differently, and pitch them differently, too. Does that make sense?

    • Hi Donna,

      I’m not sure I understand your real /exact question but let me offer a few general thoughts.

      Disclosure: I’m not a fiction fan and I fall asleep during Harry Potter movies but I’m willing to be tempted by the occasional fiction book if the marketer pushes the right emotional buttons. Under the surface, there are some very deep and powerful reasons people buy. “It is an escape” is highly unlikely to compel me to buy.

      I think the same process Pamela outlined will work to get to the essence of why people buy fiction. But, you have to be willing to go deep. The items you listed, “Escape for the reader, a way to get away from it all, and to rejuvenate” will work for some people, but there are a lot more buyers available if you make a deeper/emotional tie.

      Let’s try an example: You sell fiction.

      Why is that important to your prospective buyers?
      Sample answer (using “I” for clarity of illustration): I like it

      Why is that important?
      Sample answer: It’s just nice to escape for a while.

      Why is that important?
      Sample answer: It helps me relax.

      Why is that important?
      Sample answer: My life stinks and reading about people who have a nice life makes me feel good.

      Why is that important?
      Sample answer: It gives me hope!
      Ding, ding, ding, ding! If you are a marketer and you sell me hope, my hand reacts by reaching for my wallet.

      Does that make sense?

      Try switching the process around and answering yourself.

      Why do you buy fiction?
      Why is that important?
      Repeat.

      So what does it all mean? As a marketer, it’s great to emphasize “Escape for the reader, a way to get away from it all, and to rejuvenate”, but there are deeper reasons like “I want hope”, “It teaches me better ways to treat others”, or “I want to be inspired to be a better me”, etc. Those are powerful “whys”.

      p.s. Not to get philosophical but you can use a similar process to figure out the goals in your life.
      What is your most important goal in life?
      Why is that important?
      Your answer
      Why is that important?
      Your answer
      Why is that important?
      Your answer
      Why is that important?
      Your answer
      Why is that important?
      Your answer
      Why is that important?
      Your answer

      The process ends when you are in tears. At that point, you know your real goal and why it is important.

      p.p.s. Sorry this is long 🙂

      • WOW Mike! That’s getting to the heart of the matter with a few simple words. In my business, I create all natural bath, body and home care products and seeing your answer spelled out using a tough product really brought it home to me. I have work to do to get my “why” out there! Thanks Mike and Pamela!

  3. Thanks Pamela and Mike for your comments to my question. Mike, for someone who doesn’t read fiction, you really have hit the nail on the head as far as the underlying real goal. Your answer really resonates with me.

  4. Great Post Pamela,

    We use this technique at Toyota to do problem solving. We do “root cause analysis” or something we call the “5 Whys.”

    Start by stating the problem.

    Then ask “Why?” Give the most obvious answer.

    Again ask “Why?” and keep drilling down deeper and deeper until the root cause of the problem is found, where you can dig no deeper.

    We find 5 whys will usually get you there.

    Not a marketing example, that’s true, but it just shows you can take tools you use in one area of your life and adapt them to other areas as well.

  5. great post! i have used the so what question too, but i like having another question to ask, sometimes it helps you to hit that nail on the head when you just word it a new way!

    i love the comments here and the fact that folks are so willing to help each other out. sometime one just needs a fresh set of eyes!

  6. Hey Pamela,

    I was wondering if you might work out a quick tagline that goes along with the root reason of happiness that you got down to.

    How would you actually apply that or “work it out” for the yoga accessories business?

    I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around this specific example at least 🙂

    • Here are a couple off the top of my head, Zach:
      “Yoga Gear to Stretch Your Smile”
      “Smile Salutations: Gear for a Happy Yoga Practice”
      “Upward Smiles Yoga Gear”

      I’m trying to plug in to the base need and bring it out in the words. Does that make sense?

  7. And this blog post is important because?

    Because it teaches you to ask, “and that is important because?”

    And that is importance because?

    Because you need to know why things are important.

    And that is important because?

    Ahhh…it never ends.

    But seriously, great post, and a great way to simplify the marketing process without ignoring value.

  8. Matthew, Steven, Eddie: thanks for stopping by a leaving comments.

    Steven: you had me going there for a moment. I thought you were about to trash the whole concept! Glad you found it useful.

  9. Wow… I really never thought of this.:) Thanks a lot Pam! That’s why I really love reading your blog.

    This is also a good strategy for knowing the needs of your clients while at the same time creating newer and better solution for these needs.

  10. Love this article! Most marketing & business lingo is referencing true small business & it isnt always feasible for solopreneurs like myself.

    So I take the bigger ideas and try to whittle them down into something that fits a single person gig. But inevitably I tend to think about marketing as such a complex thing & it takes me down unnecessarily complex avenues that bogs me down in frustration & paralysis.

    Asking this simple question until I’m am at the core of my purpose will certainly make marketing -as well as other key decisions- easier to clear & vet!

    Thank you!

    • So glad you enjoyed this, Tiffany. I’m always happy to simplify concepts (and always grateful when others do it for me.)

  11. Great article which makes basic sense. I also loved reading the comments from different people as it shows me how each person reads something different into it – as in the way we are all wired and have our own individual take on things. Again, it just drives the points in your article home all the more… Thank you.
    John

  12. Pam…This is a terrific and timely. As of last Wednesday (April Fools Day) our little Commercial group is now under the ownership of a new Coldwell Banker Commercial Broker. A very positive Lady and real breath of fresh air.

  13. I’m very familiar with this concept and I agree it cuts to the heart of our Marketing efforts, but once we’ve identified the core desired feeling our product serves how do we translate that to our communication with potential customers?
    Keeping with your yoga products example; do you change your messaging to “use our yoga mats to be happy!”?, or do you use images of smiling, fit yogis holding poses on your company’s mat?
    Please take a deeper dive on making the transition from identifying what we’re truly selling to creating Marketing informed by that knowledge.
    Thanks,
    Jamie

    • Showing smiling, fit yoga students is a great start, Jamie.

      In your copy for that yoga accessories business, you can talk about how your products help people achieve the happiness they crave. You can have a tagline that says “Happiness happens here” while you show a yoga mat. You can call a packaged set of a mat, a yoga towel, and a yoga block “Your Happiness Kit.”

      Does that make sense? It’s about incorporating that core thing you’re selling into all your messaging.

  14. Thank you so much Pamela, for the “And that’s important because?” message 🙂 This is definitely one the best insights I have ever received for crafting brand core messages or even taglines.

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