My Favorite Content Strategy Word is ‘Why’

The word "why"

Always ask "why?" before you build a strategy

I recently read a blog post from Rod Brooks titled, “If You Don’t Know Why, Your What and Your How Don’t Matter.” He said that “why”  is one of the essential, central questions in our lives.

I agree. As Rod noted, children are incessantly asking “Why?” (and we are just as constantly answering with the annoying, “Because!” — which obviously isn’t really an answer). And they’re on to something.

Because I strongly believe that  “why” should be at the foundation of all your content strategy decisions.  In fact, it should be at the core of all business decisions, says Rod:

In business, it’s critical that we are able to clearly define and communicate our mission… Why do we exist? Why are we in business? Why does what we do matter to the people we do it for? Why is doing business with us, better for someone than doing business with one of our competitors? Why?

This is something I deal with all the time. A client will say something like, “We need a Facebook page!” and everyone around him will nod excitedly. “Yes, that’s it, we need a Facebook page!”

As a content strategist, it’s then my job to say, “Okay, you think you need a Facebook page. Why is that? What are you hoping to gain from it?”

If the response is dead silence, I know I have my work cut out for me, because they haven’t thought this thing through and now we need to determine if in fact there IS any benefit to having a Facebook page.

But if they come back with, “We need a social channel to increase our brand exposure and engagement, and our research shows that 80 percent of our target market is on Facebook,” well, then we’re in business. They have a solid business reason (the “why”) for doing it. They’re not just bandwagon-hopping or doing it because they “should.”

Asking “why?” to everything might sound like a chorus of negativity to you. But it’s actually fundamental to creating and delivering a sound content strategy. (I’d also like to throw in that “who?” is a close second — as in, who is your audience, who are you writing for, who will maintain and create your content, and so forth. But that’s for another post.)

What do you think? Do we ask “why?” often enough?

Photo: Flickr/quinn.anya

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One Comment on “My Favorite Content Strategy Word is ‘Why’

  1. Great post, CC. Why indeed. This simple question is the key to creating content with purpose… Not shiny objects.

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