Tom Webster, writing and speaking

My Favorite Question

Added on by Tom Webster.

1076933972_1df594070f.jpgSo, I love questions (you know this by now.) The recent popularity of Quora amongst the chattering classes seems to indicate that many of you do, too - or, at least, you like answering them. So to start off the week, I'm going to share with you my favorite question. I've done a crapton of qualitative research in my life - nearly a thousand qualitative sessions with individuals and groups of all shapes and sizes. When I am doing brand work, this question is my secret weapon. I call it the "eulogy" question, and it goes like this:

"If [brand in question] were to go away tomorrow - to die (and I like to say 'die,' btw), and you had to deliver its eulogy, what would you say missed the most? What would make you genuinely sad?"

There are three answers to this. some brands elicit a gusher of responses, as you might imagine, and the strongest will tend to coalesce around one or two common bits of information. Some brands will elicit no response at all. Still others will generate a response, but in person - in the context of a focus group or interview - I can see that there is no light in their eyes. In other words, I am not getting a passionate response, merely a response to the Stockholm Syndrome that sets in near the end of any focus group.

The ability to see (or not see) that light, spark or body language associated with the answer to that question, by the way, is what keeps me doing (and recommending) focus groups to my clients who need to not only hear, but see the answer to that question.

So I give this question, my favorite question, to you as a little gift. What makes it great is that it is a different question than simply "name the features and benefits that brand 'x' offers," which is a passionless, quantitative question masquerading as qualitative insight. Asking people what they would miss if you were gone, however, will either nail your brand or product for what really matters, or send you back to the drawing board to create the kind of meaning that would inspire a thousand eulogies.

If your customers can't write this eulogy, then you should probably start writing it yourself. You might need it.