English poet and author, Rudyard Kipling, suggested the use of six questions – as a model for better thinking. Here is Kipling’s witty poem called, Six Honest Men:

I have six honest serving men
They taught me all I knew
Their names are What, and Where and When;
and Why and How and Who.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Interestingly, these same six questions are used in many marketing campaigns, with an emphasis on answering the question “Why?”

In a recent article at psychotactics.com called, “The Power of Why: Your Psychological Ally To Marketing Success!” the author says:

“Let’s assume you needed to go to the supermarket. All the other triggers (how, when, where, who and what) would make absolutely no difference if you didn’t know ‘WHY’ you were headed there. Everything else would be totally irrelevant. Once you know WHY you’re doing something, everything else is just a matter of logistics.” Full article

Simon Sinek’s TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action?” explains the power of knowing why we do the things we do. He explains his message through a simplistic, bulls-eye graphic that he calls the “The Golden Circle”. In the graphic there are three rings. The outer ring represents ‘what’, the middle ring represents ‘how’, and the core represents ‘why.’


He explains that this model corresponds to the way our brains are wired and applies equally to both individuals and companies. Our brain starts from the outer circle and moves inward and this is what is typically done in marketing.

He says that the successful companies, the progressive companies, and the winning companies operate in reverse. They start from the inside – out, explaining ‘why’ they do what they do before anything else.

He gave this example using Apple’s marketing strategy:

Let me give you an example .I use Apple because they’re easy to understand and everybody gets it. If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?” “Meh.” And that’s how most of us communicate.

That’s how most marketing is done, that’s how most sales is done and that’s how most of us communicate interpersonally. We say what we do, we say how we’re different or how we’re better and we expect some sort of a behavior, a purchase, a vote, something like that. Here’s our new law firm: We have the best lawyers with the biggest clients, we always perform for our clients who do business with us. Here’s our new car: It gets great gas mileage, it has leather seats, buy our car. But it’s uninspiring.

Here’s how Apple actually communicates. “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.  The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one? “Totally different right? You’re ready to buy a computer from me. All I did was reverse the order of the information. What it proves to us is that people don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.

Simple? You bet.  Effective?  Very.

All customers really need to know is the answer to one simple question: Why should I chose you over all my other options? Why should I pick you over all of your competition?

All the fancy graphics, signage, websites, aren’t going to sway a prospect into a customer until you answer this basic question. Why?

Why should I spend my hard-earned money? Why should I spend valuable time at your website? Why should I watch your video? Why should I read your email or newsletter? Why? You better be prepared to answer that question on the first page of your website, in the title of your email, and in your headings and not buried somewhere your reader/visitor needs a map to find.

Sometimes, ‘why’ isn’t easy to put into words. But this simple, practical piece of advice often pulls the psychological trigger for people to buy. Try starting off by answering Why, before tackling What and How. Your result will be worth it.