• Why Marketers Should Embrace Their Inner Child

    The other day, while with my five-year-old niece, I observed two things. First, spaghetti sauce is surprisingly difficult to remove from clothing and, secondly, she asks A LOT of questions.

    Spaghetti sauce aside, that experience made me reflect on my own day-to-day. Specifically, I thought about how she asked questions to better understand the world around her and, thus, make decisions within it.

    Allow me to explain.

    As marketers, we have all been there: our brand, while strong and worthy in its own right, lacks awareness. In fact, as categories become further commoditized (and marginalized by way of eCommerce options), this challenge is seemingly more and more pervasive. Intuitively, then, we go about finding ways to drive awareness of our brand. It is at this exact moment where we determine our fate.

    If we go all-in on the goal of building awareness, then what does that really entail? Are we building campaigns that will drive impressions? If so, what does that accomplish for our brand? In this instance, a vanity metric like impressions is difficult to tie to tangible business results. However, if we use this time to ask more questions, we begin to understand the problem we have to overcome – or the opportunity, as I like to call it.

    Enter the question burst.

    A question burst is a mode of brainstorming, as documented in Harvard Business Review, that focuses on broadening the problem space. In other words, by asking more questions, we open up the problem and begin to see other paths to a solution.

    Going back to our previous example of awareness, a series of questions might go as follows:


    • Why don’t people know about our brand?
    • Who are we targeting?
    • Have we explored other consumers as targets?
    • Who else can get value from our product?


    It is not necessarily in asking those questions where you find the ‘a-ha!’, but in the answering of them. Is there an opportunity to go after a new target? Take laundry detergent, for example. Most brands opt to target females. But, why? Over 60% of men under 35 are doing their own laundry. Why not create a campaign that speaks to them? Not only will you be reaching a previously ignored audience, but you’ll help drive sales.

    Asking more questions is no panacea, but it is certainly a helpful tool. One that, when coupled with the right creative approach, can really help drive a brand forward.

    I guess cleaning the spaghetti sauce off my niece’s shirt was worthwhile, after all.