The Power of a Question

July 2nd, 2012

When I was 30, I lived in a largely rent-controlled building in New York City with my (then) girlfriend, who was also my age. There were nine other residents on our floor: a young couple in their 20’s, and seven single elderly widows/widowers in their 70’s and 80’s.

The average age of our floor was 58. No one was 58.

While direct mailers were carpet bombing us with brochures to switch our 401K funds to bonds, the residents of our building were either living off of pensions or just beginning to invest. Trees were being slaughtered because someone asked “What’s the average age of that building?”

Every time we boil our marketing data down to a “what” and leave it at that, we make the same mistake.

Success lies in your willingness to ask—and answer—just one more question than your competitor.

For most of us, it’s the same one: “Why?”

(Get the details on the Power Of series, including calendar of contributors)

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