What and Why


A closer look at WOW 2 from 99 Creative WOWs—Words of Wisdom for Business

This WOW is from 99 Creative WOWs—Words of Wisdom for Business, a newly published book for recent grads, thriving and striving entrepreneurs, biz whiz professionals and creative wizards. In this 99WOWs Blog post, check out this example of how important it is to ask the right questions. You don’t need to know every step at the start. In fact, you can’t. When you ask the right questions in the right order, you learn what to do next along the way, as this WOW demonstrates.

Know the WHY. Create the WHAT. The rest will follow.


As a creative problem solver, asking questions is a big part of what I do. My work pivots based on my ability to ask the right questions. When clients bring creative business challenges to QuaraCORE they often start by stating WHAT they need. When clients begin with WHAT, we do some digging as this example shows.

“We need a new brochure to introduce our new B2B product called the X2000.
It’s 32 pages long, full color and we need 3500 of them in three weeks.”

This request for services is clear, thoughtful and specific. However, even clear requests are not always what clients really need. Consider the WHAT as a starting point—what the client is able to define from inside the challenge. Creative consultants offer a different view. We see the challenge from a distance and with the right questions, we can propose ideas that tap into the root issues and deliver more value as a result.

One powerful question often upends the initial specifications that clients present. “Why?”

This question exposes detail and information that wasn’t part of the directive to prepare a proposal for a 32-page brochure. When a client reaches out with a specific request like this one, I begin by listening. When there’s a cue for me to respond, I ask simply, “Why?” We then explore why it is a brochure that is needed as opposed to many other creative ways to present a new product. We discuss why 32 pages is a magic number, why full color is important and of course, why it is so important to complete this brochure in three short weeks.

Often I discover answers like—

“We need a brochure because all our competitors do brochures; it’s just what everyone does.”

“All the other brochures are 24 pages so ours needs to be bigger. They also do lots of splashy color so we have to do color, too.”

We have to have this in three weeks because we need to ship these to Cleveland for a big sales conference a month from now.”

“My boss told me to go out and get a brochure done and she’s the boss. She wants a brochure? We do a brochure.”

While compelling urgencies, these responses are not always the right reasons to create a brochure.

Once I discover the answers to this first wave of WHYs, I delve deeper still with more WHY questions. I usually discover the need to achieve a specific result that extends far beyond the requested service, in this case, the brochure. Answers to the next WHY questions revealed—

To cover development costs, the client needed to sell 10,000 units of the X2000 in six months and reps needed to start selling.

They planned to bring this product out last year, but a supplier problem caused an eight-month delay. Production began four months ago, but product wouldn’t be available to sell until October.

The conference was already costing a lot of money. They were flying reps in from all over the country; reps knew from weekly newsletters that the product was finally going to be ready, but were still wary. The client needed to make a big internal splash—fast. Their next conference wasn’t until after Labor Day.

The three-week brochure timeline was not just for design and production—the copy for this piece had not been written because the product was not yet complete enough.

Simple requests for services are often anything but. By discovering the background, history and pressures your client faces, you are better positioned to create better solutions for both short- and long-term needs. Once you KNOW the WHY, you can often CREATE a better WHAT. To help this client solve this product launch challenge, we proposed a different approach—one that was more achievable in the three-week work window.

The brochure had to achieve three short-term results to ultimately lead to their big goal, selling 10,000 units within 6 months.

Result 1: Inspire and inform the reps about the new product.

Result 2: Provide the reps with enough specific take-away information to pre-sell the product—before they have it.

Result 3: Reassure the reps that this time, the product will work and be ready.

Once our WHY questions led us to understand these deeper priorities, we created a proposal for a different WHAT than the originally-requested brochure.

Here’s WHAT we proposed:

To inspire and inform the reps about the new product, we suggested going directly to the reps. Given the tight timeline, we proposed creating a real-time, experience-focused solution with a fun and informal video for the conference as its centerpiece. This “behind-the-scenes” work-in-progress video would show proof that the product actually was being created. The CEO would personally contribute footage to confirm growing market demand and share market testing results, both designed to reassure and inspire reps.

We also proposed a concept to make learning about the X2000 an honor. The Sr. VP of Sales would invite three top-performing reps from different regions to become the X2000’s NPCs, New Product Champions. We would create an identity for this honor with special gear including hats, embroidered shirts, and special cell phone cases. NPCs would be flown to the factory to see the production of X2000 first-hand. No third-person report could replace this rep-to-rep verification. They would spend time with the production experts who would answer the toughest questions the reps could think to ask. Great sound bites and photo opportunities would provide evidence of progress—without needing a lot of content that couldn’t be accurately crafted.

Each NPC would create a quick phone-generated You Tube video explaining what they saw. Based on product benefits, reps would map out their plans to sell the product to 3 different customer types yielding 9 sales scenarios.

The week before the meeting, we’d weave these authentic videos together with close-ups of the product and short, compelling benefit statements. This video would be shown at the conference and circulated after via internal social media. Transcribed video text excerpts would grow into internal post-conference blog posts. NPC reps and factory production experts would provide monthly progress updates following the conference template model. This approach created a lot more buzz and conversation than any brochure.

To provide the reps with enough specific take-away information to pre-sell the product—before they have it, we proposed X2000 Product Launch conference events. NPCs would each host a Q&A session. Every rep attending the Q&A would receive a badge button reading, “I’m ready to sell the X2000! Are you?” Each rep would receive digital FAQ documents, colorful product benefits infographics and customizable PDF handouts for each of the 9 sales scenarios.

Finally, to reassure the reps that this time, the product would work and be ready we proposed cameo video clips showing production experts working feverishly to finish the product including close-ups of dinner delivery trucks to underscore everyone was working round the clock to deliver results on time.

The Rest Will Follow

Instead of spending the client’s money to create a static 32-page brochure, we respected their budget and proposed using time and resources differently to help them achieve short-term goals that would help them determine WHAT to do NEXT—after their first conference hurdle had been crossed.

KNOWING the WHY led to CREATING this different initial WHAT. By asking more questions after the conference, we could determine the best NEXT steps for the client to take between the conference and the October product release. With the first-hand knowledge from the overt rep response at the conference, the right next steps would follow.

This WOW is all about three smart business habits:

  1. Ask essential WHY questions to ferret out core issues.
  2. Create actionable WHAT options that are doable in the time frame.
  3. Trust that by creating a WHAT that delivers and informs, the RIGHT rest WILL follow.

Ask yourself WHY to lead you to your next creative WHAT!

Do you have a similar experience from your business? Share it below.

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