Why isn’t always the most important question
The most important question we are always told to ask in planning is why.
Just keep asking why and you’ll get to the answer. Why do they buy us? Why do they like us? Why do they shop there? But before we ask why, I think we should first ask who.
When it comes to your target audience, and if you follow the thinking of Byron Sharp, author of How Brands Grow, you should focus on your light and non-users, not your die-hard fans. Based on his research, it’s not the people that are tattooing their arm with your logo or naming their kid after your brand that are responsible for improving your bottom line. So engage those you don’t already have.
Douglas Holt, author of Cultural Strategy, offers another approach. He believes you should target the subcultures. It’s those passionate, forward thinking few that exist in the fringes that will help to propagate your ideology and thrust your brand into cultural relevance.
And if you were to submit yourself to the opinions of Mark Earls, author of Herd, you should target networks or communities of people. He argues that since we are social creatures by nature and essentially copy the behavior of others, if you want your idea to really catch on you need to market to people as an interactive group, rather than as freestanding individuals.
Each of these methodologies forces us to consider whether we’re talking to the right people, and whether we have the right strategy in place, before we try to find something insightful to say about them.
Precisely why you should always ask who before you ask why.