Where is the best cheeseburger in your town? If you're vegan, where is your favorite vegan burger? Pause . . . imagine sitting down at your favorite burger joint. What does it smell like? What is the atmosphere like? Let your imagination run.
Salivating yet? I am. My favorite burger in town is at Tropicana Bar & Grill. I put myself there in this little exercise. It's 8:00 AM on a Wednesday, and I just made myself hungry for that awesome cheeseburger.
This imagination exercise is marketing. There is a nuance I would like for us to pick up on. I hopefully made you hungry for your favorite burger. I attempted to market your favorite burger by helping you answer the "why" question, not the "how" question.
The "why" is your reason for enjoying a great burger. Your why has to do with hunger, flavor, and aroma. Your why has to do with experience. If I can successfully get you thinking about your "why" I can sell that burger to you more easily.
But what if I tried to market this burger by answering "how" questions? I start by having you imagine the butchering of a cow. I explain the processing of meat and then how it is preserved and shipped. I then explain how the hamburger is grilled, at what temperature, and for how long. I add the details of the bun and condiments. I bet your taste buds are dancing with excitement!
Yet, this is what too many engineers, architects, and contractors do to market themselves. Our instinct is to try and impress clients by answering "how" questions. The practitioners love to discuss the "how." I get it! The "how" is impressive. The intricate details of how infrastructure and buildings get designed and built are fascinating. But the "how" answers do not provide an experience. They do not move the soul or inspire.
Learn to answer your client's "why." When I am sick, I want to feel better. I'm not interested in the chemistry of the medicine and the microbiology of how it works. I am only interested in feeling better. "How" my medicine is made and "how" it works is irrelevant to me when I am feverish, aching, and vomiting. "Why" I take the medicine is much more relevant.
The "how" answers do not provide an experience. They do not move the soul or inspire.
"How" you design a bridge is irrelevant to me when I just want an easier and safer way to cross the river.
"How" electricity gets generated and delivered to my home is irrelevant when I need my air to work on a hot summer day.
Start reviewing your marketing messages. Are you trying to answer "how" or "why?" Review your website, brochures, blog posts, social media channels, and proposal documents. If you find you are answering more "how" questions, it's time to update. Start answering the "why" questions.
Gabe Lett, FSMPS, CPSM, LPC