Start With How?

As we all sit in lockdown, you might be losing track of the days. It’s Tuesday and this week I suggest that as content marketers we need to focus not just on the why? But how?


Asking why is a good skill for a marketer and probably like you, I’m a huge fan of Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why”, my copy is a bit battered. However, I wonder if we as B2B marketers pay enough attention to the question our clients are really asking: How?

The client often has the “why” figured out, that’s why you are there. But, a lot of sales decks, thought leadership and content marketing focus on the why.

Why should a client act?

This is, of course great, the biggest competitor we are marketing against is often “do nothing”. I am a huge fan of Andy Raskin’s Greatest Sales Pitch I’ve Ever Seen essay, where he lays out a 5 point narrative, that starts with outlining the change in the world that means the client has to act.

There is a train coming and we are tied to the tracks.

Once the client feels this, why they need to be untied is pretty bloody apparent. They are only interested in two things, the outcome (a vision of them no longer tied to the tracks) and how you are going to either untie them or stop the train.

I often get the opportunity to facilitate executive networking sessions and these folks are tired of hearing that they need to do something, like improve customer experience and why they need to do it (probably some bollocks about the digital empowered consumer having the attention span of a goldfish).

Conversely, I spent time as an industry analyst and I would see a succession of vendor briefings, all of them spent 80% of their time redefining the problem, the category, their POV, all focusing on the situation and the “why act” and “why them” not the outcome or the how they would get there.

When I say “how” I don’t mean features, I mean how will we get from here, tied to the tracks to freedom.

I had a similar conversation today, a sales deck that deeply buried the outcome for their client and how that would be achieved in the detail, the answers to why do something and why choose them dominated the story.

We see this in content marketing, a focus on why prospective clients need to act and on brand purpose; why them.

But, this is just a part of a whole story that has to feature the client as teh main character, to show what the outcome is for them if they act and how you will help them get there.

Start with how.