March 28, 2018

What’s it for?

It’s pretty common for me to get questions like:

My answer to questions like these is usually:

“It depends.”

These are all tactical questions. Beyond the most generic “best practices” types of answers, I can’t give good advice without knowing at least a little bit about how the tactic fits into your overall business strategy.

So I ask:

“How does the website/podcast/speech fit into your overall business strategy?”

Once I know what the tactic is meant to accomplish within the context of the overall strategy, I can almost always get extremely prescriptive about exactly how to maximize the benefit of picking the right domain name, or the right podcast episode length, or the right conference talk abstract.

In absence of a clearly articulated business strategy, I have a backup question that can help me understand your desired outcome:

“What’s it for?”

In the case of picking the right domain name, “What’s if for?” would translate to a series of questions like: “What is your website for? Who do you want to visit it? How will they end up on the site? What is the site’s primary job? What do you want it to do for your business?”

In the case of a podcast, “Who is the target listener? Where will they listen? Are you trying to build authority? Or a cult of personality? Or make industry connections? Or do market research? Or sell sponsorships? Or promote your services?”

In the case of a conference talk, “Who is your target attendee? What conferences do they attend? What do they currently believe? What is the one action you want them to take at the end of your talk?”

If you don’t want to answer questions like these, there is a high probability that you are wasting your time with the tactic. Or that you’re engaging in a hobby rather than a business.

Everyone has limited resources. You need to deploy them in the ways that are most effective. You can’t make good decisions about tactical efficacy without knowing what you’re trying to accomplish with a given effort.

So when you’re considering expending resources on a tactic, start by asking yourself:

“What’s it for?"