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marketers, first ask: “why do we want to do this?”

Andy Shaw

Please put down that case study.

Step away from your competitor’s glistening, well-curated Instagram feed.

Banish yourself from any and all conversations that start with “I didn’t have time to look at our data or anything, but I think it would be cool if....”

You, dear brand marketing director/social media strategist/communications manager, are about to commit yourself to heartaches and headaches.

You’re about to commit your brand to a digital marketing campaign just because.

We all do it. We get entranced by a cool new marketing idea — augmented reality! Snapchat filters! Google+, for like five minutes! — and we’re worried we’ll look foolish if we wait. What if our competitor does it? We need to get more leads, and what we’re doing right now is fine, but this other approach could be amazing. Let’s try it!

Why following others goes nowhere

Nobody wants to be the brand that falls behind, and it can seem impossible to test everything, especially if you don’t have a big marketing team.

One of the benefits of working with a team of digital strategists, rather than straight-forward digital marketers, is that we’re going to constantly ask the “Why?” We love CTR and impressions just as much as you, but we’re also here to keep you honest because that’s how you get value for your budget. And we want to make sure you’re asking your team this question when someone has one of those “Hey, have we thought about this?” ideas:

“Why do we want to do this?”

It’s not a “No.” It’s not a “Should we…” It’s putting the onus on your team (and, if you’re working with a team like us, the onus is with us, too) to think through an idea. I always like having an improv mindset to ideas; I moonlight in improv comedy, and the basic tenet there is to accept an idea and build on it, rather than reject it flat out. You explore it and see if it works.

How to have the conversation

Let’s say your colleague wants to add a series of branded, illustrated videos to your Instagram feed to tout the benefits of your core product. Sounds fun! Your feed does OK on engagement, so this could be helpful. This time, you remember the wise words of some blogger you read on andculture’s website.

“Why do we want to do this?"

  • “It’ll be eye-catching and new.” Sure, but that’s a lot of work just for new. Why do we want people to see this?
  • "Because if we do, our consumers will be more aware that our product has a lot of features other competitors don’t offer." Great. That’s important, but why illustrated videos?
  • "Because our IG stories have high engagement, and when we’ve had animated content in the past, it always gives us a bump. Plus, animation gives us more flexibility to tell a story." Now we’re getting somewhere. Why do we want to have flexibility?
  • "Because our IG posts have been getting stale. We’ve run out of pictures to use. I thought this could be fun." Bingo.

That’s when you could discover that an idea could, at its core, be about a content library issue and not about the virtue of the original idea. It doesn’t mean the idea can’t still work (in this case, if there’s a budget for it, it sounds justifiable!), but now you know that your team is looking for answers rather than fixing problems.

Keep asking “Why do we want to do this?” We’ll be asking you. Figure which of your team’s ideas are truly great and which are really more about chasing a trend or covering a deficiency.