Why Ask Why

C. Richard Weylman has watched many companies make the mistake of asking “what.” Instead, Weylman, author of the new book, The Power of Why, says the key to any business’ success is to instead ask: “Why.” Direct Marketing News talked to Weylman about what every company must know, and why.

What is the value of asking “why?”

In reality, the real value of asking “why” is that it allows you to understand functionally and emotionally why people want to do business with the company and buy a particular product or service. From this perspective, what marketers often think is that the reason people buy is usually significantly different than why consumers actually buy something. Asking “why” allows you to see things from the customer’s point of view.

What is the best way for a company to keep their name in the public consciousness when new competition arises?

The most important thing, in terms of that process, is to always educate and promote curiosity. If you’re using social media it’s not just about putting up the latest product ideas. People want to be better at something. They don’t want to just buy anything, they want to solve something. They want to experience something, identify with something. They want to grow if they have a business. So if you give them hope and encouragement, or use a headline that seems to contravene what they often thought, they instantly want to read that.

What aspects of the competition should marketers watch out for?

From a competitive perspective, the last thing they want to do is talk about what makes them different. Most companies try to point out what makes them different. If I’m a consumer and you say—“Let me tell you what makes us different than another firm”—from that point on I’m comparing you. On the other hand, if you say—“Let me tell you what makes us distinct”—that completely sets the message up differently in peoples’ minds. Now they’re looking for points of distinction. A tendency today in marketing is what I call the “I” trouble. I this, I that. Nobody cares. People want to know the outcome. Even if they’re not in marketing—if they’re dating someone, why am I dating this someone? Same exact thing. It’s how humans are wired.

What are the best methods to gain a loyal customer?

Realize that a satisfied customer is the last thing you want because a satisfied customer is loyalty neutral. “Yes, I’m satisfied from what I’m getting from this company or individual but give [me] an option, an opportunity, a price, and I’ll probably go there.” What you want to do is elevate the customer experience so they become delighted advocates. It begins with every employee, every distributor, and they each have to own that customer experience. For example: Subway. They own that experience. Customers can customize that experience. You can have that sandwich any way you like, even if it’s not on the menu.

How do you build a customer-centric organization?

All sales processes must articulate the attributes of the company. [For instance, if we say]: “We have 24 hours of customer hotline,” nobody cares about that. What that [slogan] means is that [the business is] always there when [needed]. That’s what we should be marketing to people: “We’re always here for you.” You need to build a culture around the customer. You need to hire the right people that are customer-focused. The full organization is built around the customer perspective. What does it mean to the customer? What is the outcome?

How does a startup company in today’s climate establish a distinctive presence for itself?

How startups want to be seen is still relevant but they need to reach out to customers and ask them…what they want and why would they should do business with [the startup]. After talking to about half a dozen people it should be clear why they would do business with a new landscape company or business. Instagram talked to a lot of their friends. How did they roll the business out? They said, “We’re going to make it cool and easy for you to post pictures.” They went out and asked people, if they do this, would customers be interested? And it went viral. Apple also went up and asked people, “What would this mean to you, why would you buy it?” And we all know the end to that story.

On the other hand, what are the biggest mistakes you have seen from startup companies?

The biggest mistake that I’ve seen, and we do a lot of entrepreneurial coaching, is that a great idea will be taken to the marketplace without any prospective customer input. Entrepreneurs love to talk about what they’re doing and what [their product or service] means to them. That’s the biggest mistake. They talk about the attributes or the features of the particular new company but they never get to the point of what the outcome in the marketplace will be… They talk all about the product and their excitement. Nobody cares. What’s the outcome? They still need to focus on the outcome. Why is the consumer going to buy this?

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