I do a lot of questioning to find the way to go. I ask them out loud and internally to build consultation and to understand the world. I ask to understand constructs, connections, logic, and the context and stakeholders surrounding the matters at hand. I ask to get agreement on the end goal, get to know the start point and to understand and envision the way to get there. And there is this one question i ask multiple times a day – out loud and quietly.
Imagine below tactical and strategic questions – and if you and i have spoken in the last week, you might recognize one or two of them.
- What should be in the post-merger integration plan?
- How to create a best corporate communications setup for next year for Europe?
- Should we hire a global agency, individual agencies or run with in an inhouse team?
- What formulation works best to get the buy in from the team?
- Should we double our marketing budget?
- How to raise the profile of our CEO?
- How to build a stronger brand?
- What needs to be the focus in our marketing and branding strategy for 2020?
- When and how should we act/respond to this data leak (or general issue)?
- We are going to launch in Europe, one country at a time. What should we be watching out for?
- How should we pitch this story?
- How to propel our social media?
All good questions right? Some huge and some are tiny. They do not have a lot in common at first sight. But they all start the same mental process and I hear myself repeating the same return question all the time as that is what the answer depends on.
It is this same question always that lays the foundation for any strategy and any tactic. And don’t focus too much on the ‘what’ in the question, it is the detailed ‘whom’ that matters just as much.
The question is easy, the multitude of answers make it messy. There is hardly ever one ‘whom’ – list, identify and understand them, understand how they influence each other, when etc. There is hardly ever one objective and the starting points are never the same for all groups(s). There are always multiple stages the audiences will go through and success does not happen overnight or as a one off. That is where story or content layering (marketing) comes in, and PR, campaigns, in all types of forms you can think of.
What question do you lead with?