It’s All About the Questions.


Obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. For an assignment I once asked the head nutritionist at a leading grocery store chain how she would approach solving the obesity problem if named the US Secretary of Health and Human Services and given an unlimited budget. Her answer: “I would go door-to-door to every house in America and educate each family about healthy eating.”

It was a cool question.

When doing brand discovery, consumers and seller questions are used to uncover the gems. On the seller side, for me, many of the questions remain the same. The seller’s answers always take me down new turns and avenues, but the battery is pretty much static. But it’s when talking to consumers that the brand planner has to be crafty. Because interviewing mothers with toddlers about potty training is not like interviewing a morbidly obese mom about weight loss. You have to move the cheese.

In order to ask good questions, you need to understand the consumer care-abouts. Not just rationally, but emotionally. And the deeper you go, the more fertile the information. Deeply personal questions are the toughest. Obesity, erectile disfunction, beauty are all hard topics to discuss. That said, which brand of screwdriver to use is also hard to breach meaningfully. It’s too shallow. Both take some thought and preparation. The good news is, a meaningful, caring and sharing conversation can set the direction. Tell a story to get a story often works.

It’s all about the questions people. If you have a good ear you can ask a good question. Good questions are the touchstone of the successful brand planner.