All content creators, whether B2C or B2B, should think about the “why” in marketing. Marcia Yudkin recently reminded us that one hundred years ago, legendary advertising genius Claude Hopkins emphasized the importance of the “why” of a product over its “what.”
She illustrates this point by citing two articles: one about the success of a College Board campaign and the other about restaurant menu descriptions.
The College Board campaign promoted an Advanced Placement program in computer science by pointing out how cool it would be to create art, science, music, and business apps—rather than focusing on learning Java. Over a 10-year period (2007–2017), the number of high school girls taking this program increased 500 percent. And restaurants have discovered that meatless dishes sell better when given sensory or ethic-tinged names rather than simply being categorized as “vegan” or “vegetarian” or described with their ingredients.
One of my favorite “why” promotions is Clairol’s life-as-a-blonde ads, masterminded by Shirley Polykoff. They don’t feature a lot of talk about chemicals, formulas, or ingredients. Instead, they showcase smiles, male admiration, and rhapsodizing about what fun it is to be a “silky, shining blonde.” As the YouTube video shows, that’s a lot of “why” packed into less than a minute. And as I, who doesn’t have a blonde’s skin tone can testify, the “why” socked it to me during my impressionable teenage years.