“I need a marketing plan.  Can you help me?”

This is a question I get on a regular basis. People know that they need to be more strategic about their marketing efforts. So they seek out the help of a marketing consultant, agency, or some other resource.

But they’re missing one critical piece of the puzzle.

The WHY.

I’m not advocating that this one single thing will generate hundreds of hits to your website. Nor am I suggesting that it will irradicate poorly designed business processes or sleazy sales copy. What it will do is provide a foundation for your strategies, and a compass to align the future of your business.

Simon Sinek discusses this at length in his best-selling book, Start with Why (If you haven’t picked up a copy, you need to). When we talk about the why, many people think they have it down.  They exist to “exceed customer expectations.” Or, “to provide first class service.” This is just wimpy talk for, “We really don’t know, but it sounds good in our mission statement.”

I know that’s harsh, but now that I’ve brought it to your attention, you’ll start to see this language everywhere.

To further illustrate this point, let’s consider an example: Fitness in the new year.

Gyms and health clubs, eager for the swarm of clients that are vying for memberships to achieve their new year’s resolutions, offer discounts and incentives to appease the crowds every January. And though they come in droves, people join the gym for three reasons.

According to research from IHRSA Trend Reports (originally shared on Fitnessforweightloss.com), people typically join a gym to:

  • Feel better about themselves
  • Look better
  • Lose weight

While those might be vague motivations, talk to any January gym goer and you’ll discover that these are, in fact, right on target.

Go to the gym in April, however, and the audience will be different.  Why? The motivation has worn off, and all that is left is those who are inspired to make exercise a part of their daily life.

After all, there are many reasons why people stop going to the gym:

  • Too tired
  • Work obligations
  • Family obligations
  • No one to go with
  • Don’t have time
  • Etc

What does this have to do with marketing?

I’m getting there.  Trust me.

When you start something new, you will have strategies flying out of your brain like drool out of a baby’s mouth. The ideas just flow.  It seems like there are hundreds of things you could do. The possibilities are endless.  How do you narrow them all down?

The Why.

When joining a gym, you have to find the why — what is driving you to make the change? What do you want to accomplish?  Your goal must do more than motivate you to get to the gym each day. It must INSPIRE you.  Motivation is getting into your skinny jeans for a high school reunion. Inspiration is living another 20 years so you can be there to walk your daughter down the isle. Motivation is fickle.  Inspiration is infinite.

When it comes to marketing, it’s easy to find the motivation to put a strategy into motion, or launch a new product or service. But what keeps it going is inspiration, which comes from your why.

So, before you toss a bunch of marketing strategies on a whiteboard, start with the why.

  • Why does your business exist?
  • What do you stand for?
  • How does that change the world around you?

Knowing your why allows you to focus your thoughts.  Streamline your goals.  When an employee brings you an idea, you can discuss it and ask, “How does this support (or not support) the WHY of our business?”

I challenge the norm, always pushing to do more with less. I’m tired of marketing “not working” because someone didn’t stick around to see it through, track it, and analyze the results.  I thrive on creative spins on traditional mediums. I live to create.

That’s my why.

What’s yours?