Forget the “how”

Alejandro Di Trolio

18 January 2018

forget the how

Forget about the latest gadget, the latest algorithm, the new resource that Instagram has just released to get more likes and comments, forget about automated bots with “smart” answers, forget about ‘how’ in a first phase and for once focus on ‘what’.

This will be the most transgressive and obvious advice that someone in a digital agency could give you when starting a campaign this 2018 and which brands increasingly forget to include in their marketing plans.

But I insist, as a brand, concentrate on the “what”, on what makes you unique for your public, on your essence. We all know that you need to sell, that you want speed and that you have great anxiety about finding answers, but you will never be effective if first you don’t ask yourself: Why did I come knocking on this door? To do the same thing that has driven the advertising industry into decline but with cutting-edge technology? To meet Targets by weight and by hitting paid media? For that?


The “what” and the “how”:

To understand both concepts we first need to say that “what” and “how” are cousins and depend on each other. In whatever strategy where you want to get to know a product, you should primarily start by determining your “why”, a kind of profile robot based on an objective that should transcend your purely pragmatic product function. For example, if you are a dishwasher we presume you will wash well. But what makes you special? What differentiates you? What is your message at a the time when we all take quality for granted? And thus a concept starts to emerge, a spirit that is born from the same product and subsequently materialises into a “how”.

The “how” is the vital excuse with which a brand, that no one has asked for, gets into my computer, my TV, my street and says: “wait, I have something to tell you and it’s not about me but actually about you”. The “what” in that connection,  that spark similar to when we fall in love and makes us interested in the other person, builds long-term relationships and not just a one-night stand.

After identifying the “what”, we come to the vital part: “how” to spread the message so that this approach to the “what” is completed by the people. Here’s where all the resources we talked about at the beginning of this post come in. They allow us to create strategies which give our products value, so they are not just huge logos with falling prices which “influencers” hold for a fee, and that our competition will most likely replicate a week later.


2017: The reign of the how

It is not surprising that we have seen in the past year a surge of “how-to’s”. Campaigns, actions and strategies where you can see that the most important value is how to sell the product but never in the “what” differentiates the product or service from the rest.

Social media networks that were previously the promise to generate content enabling us to respond to “what am I?” have been soullessly seduced, mainly by the “how” resource. Now they have the Japanese fishing function of dragging millions of fish into the net where they later drown from boredom.

Today, in the battle for attention in media saturated with “hows”, we are returning to old intrusive tactics where anything goes to generate a few seconds of attention. Justifying “how many come in and purchased”  in an excel table as if they were mouse traps, instead of using them as consequences of the “what”, of measuring the success of a valuable content that is really appealing and the “how” as its amplifier.

Let’s hope that in 2018 brands will wake up, and we will start to worry more about what we have to communicate, the awareness of an idea beyond the resource, the creation of useful brands and products with a history behind them. Let’s hope that this is the year the few real lovebrands remaining can teach us how to sell without the need to preach, to sell by loving your audience, something that sadly has been lost and now only remains a guerrilla war of marketers based on the lowest price and the easiest joke.