the questions you must answer

If you’re rethinking, or even over thinking, how to market your organization or yourself, try boiling your mission down to its essence by answering the following three questions.

The questions came from someone who commented anonymously on a blog by Marc Hausman, CEO of Strategic Communications Group. I’ve used variants of the same questions for years, but I like the simplicity of these. I’d give that person credit if s/he had left a name. The explanations are mine.

  1. Why do we do what we do?
    Think back to your original idea, the need you wanted to fill. Some people call this a mission, some people call it an opportunity, some people call it a calling. Whatever it is, frame it very carefully—not too broadly or too narrowly.  And remember to be true to yourself.  When you finish answering this question, you should feel excited and re-energized.
  2. Why should someone choose us?
    Unfortunately, most organizations or people neglect to do a critical analysis of their current position or their real potential in the marketplace. Don’t be them. Think long and hard about your “competition,” both direct and indirect, and whether you are better/faster/easier/nicer/smarter. We all like to believe we are unique but this is sometimes more of a personal desire than a business reality. You must be honest about yourself before you can uncover your true value.
  3. Why do we do this and not something else?
    This is where you communicate about your passion, dedication, and skill. This is where it gets personal. Nobody can answer this question for you. But a good marketing consultant can take what you say and turn it into compelling messages in your business communications.

Next step: Use the answers to compose an elevator speech of 100 words or less. This short “manifesto” is the grandmother of all of your marketing messages, and should appear in some form on the front page of your web/blogsite, your facebook page, and your brochure. For more great advice about elevator speeches, here’s a great blog from Dan Hutson you can read.

What do you think? Do you have other questions or frameworks you like to use for positioning?


Claire Wagner is an experienced, versatile copywriter and editor working with nonprofits, businesses, and agencies. They count on her to be responsive and deliver excellent results.