The path to inspiring your audience with why is not for the faint of heart. Here are a handful of insights to keep in mind on the journey.

Insight 1: Why is Scary

Why is a scandalous little word. Reveal your why and you’ll reveal your motives. But don’t you dare punt by asking a focus group to tell you your why. You either know your why and you are proud to own it… or you are afraid of your why and you run from it.

Insight 2: It Takes Time

“Research by When Growth Stalls” author Steve McKee reveals that successful companies commit to campaigns lasting an average of 2.3 years but “… [companies] that struggle tend to change direction more frequently.” This can be frustrating because our economic system’s insatiable hunger for quarterly earnings puts immense pressure on short-term results. Focus on ratings and that’s what you’ll get. But that’s all. Going after loyal viewers will require perseverance.

Insight 3: Not Inspired? That’s a Red Flag

Do you really know why viewers watch your network? Do you watch your network? You see, in our industry we talk about “viewers” so much in the abstract that we forget a simple truth: “viewers” are not subjects in a focus group, they are people just like you and me. And if you are not truly inspired by your network – its brand, its message, its programming – then just be honest and admit neither are your viewers. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to read viewers’ minds. Important questions to always ask are, “Do I love it? Am I inspired by this idea? Would I watch this network, show, etc.?” If the answers are anything other than a resounding “yes,” you should stop the over analyzing and get back in touch with your intuitions.

Insight 4: Emphasize Simplicity Over Choice

At times it will be tempting to speak to your audience by falling back on the old-school shotgun marketing approach of “We’ve got it all, everything you want, it’s all here.” Resist. Because it’s not really true. Those are the what claims that you just can’t credibly own. Remember the lesson of the Hollywood movie trailer. In a noisy marketplace, viewers crave the inspiring simplicity of your why more than the myriad options of your what. Stick to more narrow positioning, communicate with your audience like an inspiring story does, and never be afraid of spurning transactional viewers in exchange for loyal viewers. Your network’s future depends on one but not the other.

Joel Pilger is the president and founder of Impossible, a brand-building production company producing moving images that move audiences. Impossible’s creative and strategic expertise spans network branding, promos, commercials and integrations and serves a client roster that includes the network families of Discovery and Scripps, Sundance Channel, History, DISH Network, Blockbuster, MillerCoors and IBM, among others.


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