The evergreen relevancy of “why”

Apr 28, 2024

We must hit the pause button at several junctions in our marketing and business processes to discuss the “why.”

Arguably the most important word in the marketing for professional services ecosystem, “why” is applicable 100 percent of the time, from the earliest strategic conversations to post opportunity closures and beyond. places the origin of “why” circa A.D. 900 – this mighty adverb, also used as a conjunction and noun, packs a historical punch. “Why” is defined as a question concerning the cause or reason for which something is done, achieved, etc. All that baggage carries over into our bottom lines.

Decisions, in business and in life, should be made after careful consideration of all applicable factors. Our actions, before and after, carry the weight of the powerful “why.” In our post-COVID world we are bound to implement the biggest lesson learned of all – to make the most out of our time. Hopefully I am not alone in having experienced a paradigm shift where I now question “why” I am engaging with every situation before me. If the answer does not transcend my self-imposed threshold, then it is time for a course correction, a readjustment, and to focus instead on a meaningful activity.

In a nutshell, we need to be able to explain the reasoning behind our pursuits and the information shared in our submittals. We must hit the pause button at several junctions in our marketing and business processes to discuss the “why” – initially as a baseline set of criteria and subsequently, as stop gaps to gauge if we are staying the course. Here are some examples:

  • Marketing collateral. I have shared my views on Statements of Qualifications (SOQs) with my “No More SOQs!” plea. Why are you assembling documents when their chances of being read are close to zero? Obviously, we cannot get rid of all collateral (heavy sigh), so we must ask “why” an average of 1.2 million times throughout the process. Why are we doing this; why would the intended audience care about this section; why include a narrative so generic that you could just replace the name of the firm and it still works?
  • Proposals. Why waste everyone’s time by starting your cover letters with “XYZ firm is pleased to submit...” instead of only including valuable information? Why include page-long descriptions of projects when you can share the highlights focusing on why these examples are relevant to the pursuit in fewer words? Why not spend more time identifying long narratives that could be presented as visuals (infographics, callouts, etc.)? Why do our proposals look like every other proposal out there?
  • Go/no-go decisions. Having witnessed several endless discussions during go/no-go meetings going over details laid out in the RFPs, it never ceases to amaze me how few instances the simple question, “Why would we want to pursue this?” is uttered. We forget about lessons learned and to ask, why did we win/lose the last similar pursuit, why did we decide to expand in this market, why are still considering projects that have proven not to be profitable?
  • Websites. Many companies fail to build websites based on user experience and succumb to the temptation of taking the easy road of developing a web infrastructure based on how they are organized internally. We must put ourselves in the audience’s shoes and ask, why would they know that they must click four times through this maze to land on the information they are looking for?

There are numerous other examples, but the essence of this petition is to maintain the wonderful trait of being curious. “Why” and “why not” are powerful tools in our quest for knowledge and the quintessential drivers to lay out a successful path to success. Focus on achieving a consistent path of meaningful endeavors. Sometimes all we need is something as simple as asking “why.”

Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper questions to ask, for once I know the proper question, I can solve the problem in less than five minutes.” I put my money on Einstein having asked “why” and “why not” at most junctures throughout his successful life. 

Javier Suarez is corporate marketing manager with Geosyntec Consultants. Contact him at

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