Here's a single concept that will give you a leg up across a variety of pursuits.
Doesn’t matter if it’s marketing, product design, career growth, or playing sports.
The concept goes by different names and comes in different flavors, but under the hood, it’s all the same.
👉 In marketing and sales, it’s storytelling
👉 In product design, it’s “knowing your customer”
👉 In job hunting and career growth, it’s “impact”
👉 In business, it’s strategy
👉 In hockey, it’s skating to where the puck will be (for my fellow Canadians)
It’s also known as the practice of asking “so what?”
(I think "then what?" generalizes better.)
This question is a bridge.
When it comes to selling (a product, a service, yourself), asking this helps you get from what you have, to what they’re buying.
Product that does XYZ
❓ So what?
❓ Then what?
❓ Okay, and?
This might be an actual story or just drawing connections between the problem, your solution, and the end result.
In B2C, if the final answer isn't some form of satisfying basic human wants (money, time, status, comfort, capability) or decreasing pain (inconvenience, etc.) — you'll have a hard time.
The closer you can get to what matters, the easier it is.
Typical advice for career growth includes talking about your impact. (More on this in a future post.)
What this really means is
Okay, you did XYZ activities
❓ Why did that matter?
❓ What problem was solved?
❓ Translate this into something relatable?
The closer your translation is to something that's easy for others to grasp the value of (e.g. money, time), the better. That's what they're buying.
“So what” or “then what” also applies to non-selling situations.
Strategy is about navigating towards long-term goals. Knowing how each step you take brings you closer (“then what”) is crucial.
Anticipating 2nd+ order effects also helps you focus. If you're starting from a wide range of goals and activities you could potentially work on, asking “then what” will help you narrow that list down.
Visionaries and experts are those who not only know what's happening, but who can guess what might happen AFTER that. We go to them to learn about potential 2nd and 3rd order effects of things happening today, or decisions we might make.
And, of course, when playing hockey (or soccer, chess, etc.) — you want to be forecasting next moves.
Imagining a couple of steps ahead helps you navigate life better in all kinds of ways.
If selling, brainstorming a few steps into the “buyer’s” experience enables you to communicate your value more effectively.
If making decisions, asking "then what" helps you identify which steps will get you closer to the desired outcome.