Just this last weekend I had this chat with an upcoming client – WHO, WHAT, WHY.

I understand the desire to have a big flashy campaign and designer signage that makes you look a million bucks. But sometimes not only is it unnecessary, it can actually do more harm than good.

More harm than good?

When starting a promotional effort, it should start with 3 basic questions:

  • WHO is our audience?
  • WHAT are we selling?
  • WHY should they pick your product over competitors?

(The Where and How will be shaped by those three questions, as well as your budget.)

The objective of the promotional effort is to get the WHO to want to get the WHAT in some way.

For example, the objective could be to get Joe Public to buy a Burger, or a Committee to pick your Tender.

Yes a Tender is a marketing document.

Everything you do in your business, inside and out, is part of your BRAND. It is part of how you promote yourself.

So lets get back to the three first questions…


  • Who – Whatever you are selling, you need to ask – Who are we targeting. What are Who’s needs to be satisfied. Describe their tastes and expectations in general. Describe their demographics, language/dialects and culture.


  • What – What is this thing (the product) that is going to satisfy Who’s need? The need may or may not be recognised, but without an actual need to address, there won’t be much motivation for your target market to seek out the product. And you must be clear how is the What going to address the need. Be brutal, blunt and honest with yourself.


  • Why – To hone in on the “who” and “what” will efficiently shape the rest of your marketing efforts, especially when the WHY becomes paramount. Why should your product be picked over all others, is it price, style, texture, reputation, prestige. How is this different from your competitors? Your answers to Who and What guide these answers. If for example your target market appreciates brand names over all other considerations, then your Why would need to be something along the lines of “because our brand name is best”.  One thing I really hate, “Our service is second to none” or other such statements. Everyone says that, it is no point of difference. And someone has to be wrong. My preference, actually state what you will do.



When these points are considered together, your Branding and Promotional efforts will be shaped. It will (more than likely) tackle the objective in mind.

But we made this {insert invention/service here} we didn’t think of needs or objectives?

Actually you did. What inspired you to create that item?

It was more than likely a need.

It is the objective, addressing the need, which is important. The Australian government even has a template to help out here: http://www.business.gov.au/Documents/MarketingPlanTemplateandGuide.docx

When you create something, independent of an objective, and advertise as such, it could be a hit. Most likely it will be a miss. And this approach could very well actually hurt your efforts. When the message you send out is confusing, then your potential clients will be confused. If that happens, they could very well be turned off your brand.

But you know what, even creating a piece of art addresses a need.

So the key message here is to ask those questions first. The Who, What, Why. Do that, and then let the results shape the rest of what you do.

About the author

Tony Hooper’s career began in the corporate world, however that changed dramatically with a move into the Media industry. He began making short documentary pieces (on aspects of business) and in exploring his more creative side he produced a number of short films, including the series “Stock Footage Fairytales” (now being remastered). He has worked on a number of music videos and commercials, as well as writing screenplays for both short and feature film. Tony is currently exploring the intrigues of experimental film while preparing for his debut directing a feature. He is a CPA, and a member of a number of screen bodies, and has worked within the corporate sector for over a decade, including as a Senior Executive in a major media company. His plethora of experience, from negotiating contracts, reporting financial affairs, and managing film sets, and his adaptability with situations and technology, has given him a wide breadth of knowledge on all aspects of production.