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Answering the most important question: why does your business exist?

Have you ever wondered what it is that makes employees and customers buy into you and your company?

Simon Sinek, author of “Start With Why”, explains that the difference between the “Apples” of the world and everyone else is that they begin by asking “why.” 

But what does that even mean? 

To explain this concept, Sinek has developed what he calls the “Golden Circle,” made up of three players, as pictured below. 

  1. WHY – the core belief of the business. It’s why the business exists.
  2. HOW – how the business fulfills that core belief.
  3. WHAT– what the company does to fulfill that core belief.

So, why… WHY?

Very few leaders, companies (or people for that matter) can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. We’ll give you a hint: This isn’t about making money. Making money is simply the end result. WHY is all about your purpose, cause or belief. WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed in the morning? And WHY should anyone care? And WHY does it make a difference?

Take a look at this messaging if Apple focused on the WHAT:

“We make great computers. They’re user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use.”

Ok, we get it..but am I sold? Not really.

Now, let’s explore messaging that focuses on the WHY:

“With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. 

See the difference…or should we say feel? As Sinek puts it, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” A company’s motivation is what makes it more than just a computer company selling features, and that’s why Apple’s products have thrived while their competitors’ fell flat.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it

“No matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter who your audience is: 30 percent will love it, 30 percent will hate it, and 30 percent won’t care. Stick with the people who love you and don’t spend a single second on the rest. Life will be better that way.” – James Altucher

With that in mind, this raises the topic of buyer personas :

  • Are your personas based purely on target demographics and assumed characteristics?
  • Do your personas fit the kinds of people who might share your core values?
  • Do you know what motivates your buyer personas to remain loyal to your products over time?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s ok! There’s not necessarily a need to trash your buyer personas and start over. Simply just add a layer of context to who they are and how they identify with your “why.”

Taking this approach will help you begin thinking about the internal motivators behind their purchase decisions. For example, maybe you are a small business with large competitors, but your customers are loyal because they like to support local.

Whatever the reason, creating marketing that inspires them to continue advocating for your business requires redefining your buyer personas to match your “why.” It takes a bit of work and some hard introspection, but the payoff is well worth it.

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