It’s a question we learn to ask in childhood to help us understand the world we live in. Similarly, in the marketing world, asking “Why?” is a way to align our work in the context of larger projects or goals for our clients and the end users they serve. Keeping this context top-of-mind helps ensure that we keep moving toward a solution.

This is where the Five Whys approach to problem-solving can mean the difference between time well spent and time wasted, understanding and confusion or cost savings and overspending. Asking “Why?” five times in succession helps marketers get to the root cause of a problem quickly. Thinking critically at each level of questioning is a way to explore alternative solutions that would have gone unnoticed otherwise.

Here’s what that might look like for your team:

Problem statement: My team is not utilizing a new tool.

#1: Why is the team not utilizing the tool?

The formal rollout was unsuccessful.

#2: Why was the formal rollout unsuccessful?

Many people missed the training.

#3: Why did so many people miss the training?

They were reluctant to spend time learning a new tool.

#4: Why were they reluctant to spend time learning the tool?

They didn’t understand the value of the tool.

#5: Why didn’t they understand the value of the tool?

They needed education demonstrating the tool’s value before the meeting.

The goal is not to cast blame on the part of the process where the downfall occurred, but to find a long-term solution to help ensure success next time. Start by stating the problem aloud to your team or writing it on a whiteboard so everyone can understand the point of the discussion. Then, ask the team why this issue came to be until you identify a core problem with a clear solution. Once you’ve determined the real issue, your team can begin creative problem-solving to address it and implement preventative measures to ensure that it doesn’t arise again.

This process is iterative; it does not have to be the same each time and there are no real ground rules other than that your team should continue asking “Why?” until you identify the source of the issue. Challenge your team to be specific, thoughtful and solution-oriented to maximize the time spent together.

Interested in learning more about creative problem-solving techniques? Reach out to us.


Thinking critically at each level of questioning is a way to explore alternative solutions that would have gone unnoticed otherwise.

About the Author

Janice Camacho

Senior Project Manager

Managing projects across the HealthTech and Industrial verticals, Janice specializes in building and optimizing the process that allows campaigns to progress from strategy to execution to fruition and everything in between. When she’s not managing client deliverables, you can find her cuddling with her 75-pound lap dog, dancing or enjoying everything the Colorado outdoors has to offer.