It’s not “What” your company does, it’s “Why” your company does it.


Jon White

September 21, 2015

In 2009, I was introduced to TED Talks. Infatuated with the concept, I spent countless days swarming through TED’s library obsessively digging trying to find inspired creative dynamite. That’s when I found a talk by Simon Sinek. Simon’s talk focused around the fundamental difference between the “Apples” of the world and everyone else. That difference is that Apple starts with the “Why.” What does that even mean? To explain this concept, Sinek has developed what he calls the “Golden Circle.” The Golden Circle has three layers:
Why – This is the core belief of the business. It’s why the business exists.
How – This is how the business fulfills that core belief.
What – This is what the company does to fulfill that core belief.

What Sinek found is that most companies do their marketing backwards. Starting from the outside, the “what,” and moving to the center instead of the opposite. I find that most companies neglect to even discover the “why they do what they do.” What is more precarious, many of these companies don’t even know “why.”

Simon uses Apple to illustrate. Apple only talks to consumers through the “why” and not the “what.” Let’s first imagine if Apple started from the outer circle by creating a marketing message that started with “what.”
“We make great computers. They’re user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?”

While these facts are true about Apple computers, these statements can be applied to their competition. Also, Apple’s price tag is tremendous in comparison. With these certainties in mind, a consumer’s purchase is highly unlikely. Instead, Sinek proposes what Apple’s marketing message is from the “why” approach:
“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. Want to buy one?”

Apple attracts consumers who share their fundamental beliefs. It’s not about selling products or features. Over the years, Apple has created a consumer base of endorsers, validators, subscribers, and most significant, consumers who are loyal to the Apple brand.

Best part, the Golden Circle can be applied to any size company who relies on inbound marketing.
HubSpot’s Customer Marketing team member, Ben Ratner, explains how.

3 Key Takeaways for Inbound Marketers

1. Step Back and Use “Why” to Think About Your Own Business
Do you know your company’s “why?” (Hint: It’s not to make money). Think about the core purpose of your business, and then think about how you market your products or services. Are they aligned? As Sinek has found, having loyal customers is all about attracting the people who share your fundamental beliefs.

2. Incorporate “Why” into Your Marketing Copy
The idea of starting with “why” is also a copy writing best practice. The next time you’re writing an email, a blog post, or a landing page, start your writing with “why.” You see, “why” explains the underlying value of what you’re promoting.

3. Redefine your Buyer Personas
Think about your buyer personas for a moment. Are they based purely on target demographics and assumed characteristics? Are they the kinds of people who might share your core values? What is it that drives your buyer personas to buy your products and remain loyal over a long period of time?

When someone believes in your “why,” they’re more than a lead or customer; they’re a loyal endorser.

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