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Use the 5 W's to Rock Your Marketplace

Meet the five W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why. Oh, them, you say. Inverted pyramid and all that journalism stuff. The five Ws are old-timers, old news. Well, yes. But theres a reason theyve been around a long time.

Plus, Ill let you in on a secret: Theyre not just for reporters writing breaking news stories or publicists cranking out press releases. You can apply the 5 W's to marketing pieces, even advertising. Let me show you how. Beyond PR The five Ws have long been the mainstay of PR professionals who must write newsworthy press releases to get media attention for their clients. By effectively using the five Ws, theyre speaking the language of journalists and the news business.

However, marketing, advertising and sales promotion are undisguised selling. How do the five Ws apply? Lets run through them. Think about an ad, Web site, brochure, or sales letter. Who Who is the audience, customer, or prospect? Who are you? What What is the product, service, offer? When What is the time element? Why is it important or urgent now? Where Where is the market(s) or company (yours and/or theirs)? Why Why should they respond or buy? What are the reasons or benefits? Why you instead of your competitor? Im not suggesting that the five Ws are a marketing cure-all. You still need to stick to marketing basics: presenting products and services as solutions to problems; showcasing features and benefits; providing proof with testimonials, opinions and statistics; and having a strong call to action. Simply use the five Ws to help flesh out all aspects of your message. Stress-free Interviewing With a firm grasp of the five Ws, I believe you can adequately steer your way through any interview. The five Ws give you the question-asking framework to approach any person, subject and project. Ideally, you prepare for an interview, considering the focus of your piece, gathering background information and preparing questions in written form or in your head. The five Ws are a good starting point, but youll find them absolutely indispensable in those instances when you have little or no time to prepare for an interview.

The five Ws will help you ask some decent questions and come away with what you need to write the piece. Dont Forget How Not widely publicized because it doesnt begin with a "W," "how" is a frequent sidekick of the 5 W's. How important is "how"? Its of prime importance in every rags-to-riches story. We all want to know how they did it. Its critical to new technology, as in how it works. You can probably think of other examples. Lean heavily on "how," for it can be just as important as the five Ws. Copyright (c) 2006 Neil Sagebiel.


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