Your ‘Why’ is more important than Who, What, Where, When and How

Luan Wise - Blog ImageReading Time: 2 minutes



The five Ws and one H, are questions whose answers are considered basic in information-gathering or problem-solving. In journalism, they make-up a formula for getting the complete story on a subject.

In marketing, we need to be looking forward. We need to be planning for what we want to happen, who we want to reach, where we will find our customers and when we need to be there.

But before we plan, we need to know why. Until we know the why, we cannot and should not determine the how.

As a freelance marketing consultant, in almost every client discovery meeting or presentation, I talk about ‘Why‘.

I ask questions. I rarely ask about the details of the product or service. To be honest, I don’t really need that level of information to be able to help someone get their marketing plan in shape. Only as an in-house marketing manager did I need to understand the operational side of a business.

What I need to know and understand is their why, and the who and why of their customer. What, where, when and how don’t matter, yet.

Starting with Why

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
Simon Sinek

I regularly watch Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, Start with Why. Make a coffee, and have a watch:

In Start with Why Sinek says that every organisation functions on three levels:

  1. What we do.
  2. How we do it.
  3. Why we do it.

Sinek argues that every organisation knows what it does – the products it sells or services it offers, and every individual knows what they do – their job title and responsibilities. Some also know how they do what they do and what they think makes them different from everyone else. However, Sinek continues, few people and organisations can clearly articulate why they do what they do – and why that should matter to anyone else.

The limitations of knowing ‘how to’

In Marketing: A Love Story: How to Matter to your Customers, author Bernadette Jiwa summarises this idea perfectly:

“Nobody told Jobs and Wozniak how to build a computer company, let alone how to make it one of the most loved brands in the world, and Howard Schultz didn’t get the Starbucks magic from a manual.

Nobody can tell you what to stand for , or how your values, wants and needs should intersect with those of your customer and then manifest  as an idea or an experience. Figuring out the destination is hard – but recognising it is more valuable than knowing exactly how you’re going to get there. Until you do the hard work of understanding the ‘why’ and the ‘who for’, every tactical ‘how to’ has the potential to take you down the wrong track.”

Discover your why

Ask yourself:

Write it down. Sleep on it.

Re-watch Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk and draw your Golden Circle.

Let me know how you get on.