Why now?

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Hey. It’s Wil.

I write about the intersection of communications and technology, especially for those looking to build new ways to communicate with their B2B clients. Thanks for being here.

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My latest article is below. More about me is here.

I saw a recent tweet thread that held my attention this week.

It went something like this:

“Why now” is my favorite part of every startup story, and yet it’s often skipped. It’s the connective tissue to your broader context: what has changed about the world (technological, economic, behavioral, etc) that makes this problem solvable and your solution possible?

– Ashley Meyer (@ashleymayer)

“Why now” is also a great way to proactively address the question of competition. You can use it to explain why others have failed (today’s dynamics didn’t exist), why the goliaths in your space can’t adapt (they were built for a different world).

– Ashley Meyer (@ashleymayer)

Instead of pitting your (nascent or hypothetical) solution against their track record, you’re comparing macro trends and tailwinds.

– Ashley Meyer (@ashleymayer)

Overall, the biggest challenge you’re up against as an early startup is getting people to care (potential hires, first customers, investors). To get most people to care, you have to connect what you’re doing to bigger trends they do care about. And then create urgency. Why now.

– Ashley Meyer (@ashleymayer)

A different way to look at things, yeah?

I’m sure a bunch of us are thinking:

“That’s all fine and dandy, however I don’t sit in VC pitch meetings, reviewing decks created by entrepreneurs looking for funding for their ideas and startups.”

What about the non-VCs of the world?

Can the why now approach work for us?

I think so.

About me: Why now.

Either through small talk or through general introductions, many conversations start with the request: “Tell me about you”.

Some of us might get stuck on this response. I know I used to.

Until I realized this was an elevator pitch for myself.

And, like the businesses we work with, the elevator pitch needs to be tweaked based on the audience that’s in front of us.

If we take my elevator pitch at the start of this article, it starts with:

I write about the intersection of communications and technology, especially for those looking to build new ways to communicate with their B2B clients.

That’s a fairly high-level (top of funnel) message.

It starts to define the audience I’m speaking to (or with), however it leaves a lot to be desired. If I was in front of an investor audience, I might add something like:

My time spent in the equities research and investment banking industries gives me a deeper appreciation of how and where value is added along the life of a business.

Based on the type of audience, I might even define that message a little further to address any current trends.

The challenge with the elevator pitch is its tense – it’s mostly created with history in mind without tying in the currency of why now.

The world has changed, so why is that elevator pitch important now?

B2B communications: Why now.

How can we use the why now approach in our business communications?

Pretty seamlessly I think.

This goes to our ability as communicators to efficiently consume as much information. By understanding what’s happening in the world today and in our own markets helps us provide context with our messaging.

For instance, if I’m communicating about security updates to my clients, I probably want to understand the recent news about the Colonial Pipeline, Log4j and SolarWinds attacks.

The response and reactions to those cyber attacks might help better define the why now messaging imperative to your communication.

Your competition: Why now.

I’m not a big fan of keeping close tabs on competition for the sake of understanding their corporate or product or service direction. We should all be in tune and in touch with our own clients (and the market in general) to understand what our own roadmaps look like.

When it comes to messaging, turning the why now approach into a question (why now?) might help understand shifts in their communications.

I’d be careful here though.

There is so much unknown about our competitor’s operations, that diving too far into their communications to understand their roadmap will only cause us to lose our own focus.

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