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Why does your business exist ?

by Colin Nederkoorn

Do you know why you get up and go to work every day? Do other people in your company?

Do your customers know why your company exists?

Getting everyone on the same page is useful on many levels.

In a Ted talk, Simon Sinek proposes:

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

If this is true, that means “why” is extremely important to someone’s buying decision. Their choice to buy from you says as much about them and their beliefs as it does about you.

The most successful companies and people market starting with “Why” they exist. Then they move to “How” they do what they do. Lastly they talk about “What” it is they are selling.

Here’s the “why” for a few different companies I’ve been paying attention to:

  • Virgin America - Make flying good again
  • SpaceX - Enable people to live on other planets (crazy, right?)
  • Soylent - Make it so people never have to worry about food again.

Sinek describes the relationship between Why, How and What as “the golden circle”.

The Golden Circle

Most companies do the exact opposite and start with “What”, then “How” and never talk about “Why”.

The most obvious example of this is when you see someone talking about features, not benefits.

One of the examples Sinek uses of a company who starts with “Why” is Apple. But he could have any mission driven company.

If Apple marketed like everyone else

Here’s what Apple’s marketing might look like if they did what other companies do:

What: We make great computers

How: They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly

Want to buy one?

The way Apple actually markets their products

Why: Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

How: The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly

What: We just happen to make great computers.

Want to buy one?

Starting with why is a lot more convincing, right?

Learn more about marketing that uses “why”

Now that you have a bit of background, watch the video:

If you’re stumped on what action items to do for your business, you might be able to draw some inspiration from what I’m planning:

Action item 1: Test a homepage that focuses on why we do what we do.

It’s on our about page but not really on the homepage.

I’m thinking of verbalizing something like: “We’re obsessed with helping companies communicate better with people…. that led us to build email software.”

You might notice that Moz focuses on the “why” really well on their homepage.

Action item 2: Record an intro video that talks about the “why”.

This is for new signups to understand why we exist (not just how to use the product).

When talk in person, or on the phone, “why” is a lot of what we talk about. But someone going through the site wouldn’t necessarily see that. The video would be a good substitute a 1:1 conversation that covers “why”.

You’ll see those items when I’m done. I’d love to know what you think.

Now, back to my original question to you:

Do you know why your business exists?

What motivates you to go to work every day? Share it in the comments, or email me (colin at this domain).

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