There’s a simple question you can use to uncover important insights into your market, your product and your messaging.
It’s something you can ask anyone – including yourself – to trigger interesting and useful responses when you’ve hit a wall and need a breakthrough of some kind.
The best part:
It’s super short – just two words – so you can adapt it to all sorts of situations.
That makes this particular Clarity Question impossible to forget (you’ve probably already used it in conversation this week).
In fact, you’ve been using it regularly since you were a kid.
Ok, enough of the teasing…
Here’s the question:
Used strategically, this simple question can help you dig deeper when you need more detail for your messaging, for example:
Q1: “What are your target market’s likely objections to this offer?”
A: “How about: I’ve tried something like this before and was disappointed… I don’t know anything about the seller… is it safe to use… and how can I even be sure it’ll work?”
Q2: “Ok. What else?”
It doesn’t sound like much, but asking it helps you get past the ‘throat-clearing’ surface-level responses people sometimes give to difficult questions.
I use it with clients and partners all the time, to find out what’s really going on beneath the surface.
Use it when you want to challenge an established way of thinking, and explore alternative possibilities…
Use it when you’re interviewing someone and need them to open up about the real reasons they took that leap of faith, started that biz or made that baffling decision…
Ask yourself “what else?” when you’re comparing options, considering the pros & cons, and you need to make the right choice.
I’ve seen the ‘what else question’ discussed in a few places (like in Warren Berger’s inspiring ‘Book of Beautiful Questions’)…
Here’s why I think it has a strange power:
First, it’s about the position of the question in your process…
Because it’s not an opening question, you only use it when you’ve already established the direction of a conversation, and you’ve already had at least one reply from your subject (or from yourself if you’re analysing your own work).
You’re NOT passing judgement on the reply you just got…
You’re noting it and asking for something else. Something additional, not a replacement.
When you ask “what else?”, you’re actively acknowledging what’s gone before it (usually a suggestion), then moving forward. Momentum is crucial to any investigative process.
Secondly, we’re often at our best when we’re challenged.
It’s true that many good solutions to problems are the first and most obvious answers…
But not always.
Let’s face it, if the first answer WAS always right, life would be a lot simpler (and duller!)
Asking yourself or your subject to go deeper – think harder, reach further inside for that long-buried nugget of truth – can lead to more creative work, more controversial opinions, more moments of uniqueness.
Sometimes it takes a bit of prodding to get past the knee-jerk responses we’re used to giving, to uncover the lightbulb moments that resonate most intensely with people.
I recently read a GQ piece that revealed how Mad Men creator Matt Weiner:
…would interrogate the writer’s room until they revealed ‘the idea [they’d] been sitting on’…
That is, the story they were afraid to pitch because they thought it was too risky or personal or weird.”
Risky, personal, weird – all ‘catnip content’ ingredients for TV viewers and marketers alike!
So when you next need to decide on a course of action, create more resonant messaging, or help someone else get over a stumbling block, use “what else?” strategically to find out what really matters.
Simple, but effective.
PS – there’s now a powerful question-based process for creating better sales messaging for YOUR business, so you can finally communicate your true, unique value to your best customers.