A long-time friend of mine recently shared with me how he creates and develops business and marketing ideas. The process he often uses made so much sense to me at such a basic level that I wanted to share it with you.
If you are starting a new project or piece of marketing, try this process. It is simple and it works.
Based on the 5000 year old teachings of ‘I-Ching’ it focusses on the elements and creates 5 key questions from them. These are in a specific order, the last of which is ‘How’.
‘How’ is a metal element and solid in nature, so focussing on this removes flexibility of thought and action. Yet it is the first question most of us ask. If I say to a client “I will double your sales” they automatically ask how? It kills all the creativity right there!
But this is out of order. Look at the difference when you work in order.
1) Water which is fluid and grows. It is the ‘why’ question. You need to ask your big WHY – Why am I doing this?
It is also important in modern marketing because potential customers are now interested in your motivations and reasons for doing what you are doing.
When you know why you are doing something it becomes your focal point on which everything else is built.
Simon Sinek did a now famous Ted Talk on ‘starting with why’. In this talk he shows us that Apple founder Steve Jobs always focussed on why as the foundation for the whole company and this was the reason they overtook Microsoft as they did. He puts the how and what in a different order but the why is the important component.
NB: This is a special edited 5 minute version of the 18 minute original. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPYeCltXpxw
2) Wood grows from the water and is the ‘what’ question. What will we do? What form will marketing take and what will we achieve.
3) Fire is the next element and is the ‘who’ question. Who do we need to bring into this marketing or project and who are we really targeting?
4) Earth is ‘when’. When will we get these people involved and when do we run this project or marketing. When will we finish and when will we know if it worked?
Finally we come back to the;
5) Metal element – the ‘how.’ If we resist the usual impulse to start here and commence at ‘why’, this question pretty much takes care of itself. From here we start over at why again.
Sounds a bit simple but it really works. If you have tried some marketing that has not worked out, run through the process you used and see if you missed an element out. If you did, chances are this is where the project was less successful.