Have you ever wondered what compels a customer to stay loyal to a product or brand? Why are some people unwavering in their allegiance to a company even if they have to pay more for that brand’s products or services? How do businesses make their ideal customer aware that they exist?
Well, according to best-selling author, marketing consultant and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek, the secret lies not in telling people what you do, but why you do it. The one thing that makes successful companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon stand out is a marketing message that begins with Why; why they exist and their purpose for being there.
Traditional sales and marketing messages begin by telling people what the company does, what they sell and what products or services you can buy from them. They then go on to say what makes them special, how this sets them apart from other companies and how their products help you.
All good so far, but that’s when their message usually stops. Many don’t bother with the Why – why they do what they do, what they believe in, their purpose.
Putting the message into reverse
Simon Sinek uses his Golden Circle concept to show how to turn traditional marketing on its head. Instead of relaying a message that goes What, How, Why, he reverses this process and begins with the Why.
In his Ted Talk, ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’, Sinek uses Apple’s marketing message as an example of how to lead with the Why, and shows how effective this method is in attracting their ideal customer: in other words, people who share Apple’s core beliefs (no pun intended!).
Leading with the Why inspires trust, loyalty and commitment to a brand. How many times have you heard people say they only buy Apple? Once trust is gained for one product, such as a desktop computer, it extends to all Apple products, tablets, smartphones, watches, laptops. . . it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Surprisingly, psychology plays little part in this type of decision-making, it’s all down to biology, or, more specifically how our brains are formed. And, interestingly, the biological nature of the brain exactly mirrors the rings in the Golden Circle.
The outer ring of the brain – the neo-cortex – matches the What circle in the diagram. This is the part of the brain responsible for rational thought. It understands facts, figures and pros and cons, but – and here’s the interesting bit – those factors don’t drive behaviour.
Gut feelings play big part in purchasing
The two inner circles represent the limbic system, which is responsible for our, often unconscious, value judgments, feelings, trust and loyalty. This part of the brain is governed not by language, but by emotions.
By speaking directly to the limbic system, using the Why part of our marketing message, we are tapping into the part of the brain that controls behaviour. The outer part of the brain then rationalises what we say and do. This explains how we often reject factual reasoning and rely instead on our gut feelings.
Once we understand the concept of the Golden Circle, we can see how it’s used by successful companies to attract their ideal customer, to build their tribe. Take Amazon for example. Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1995. His vision was to produce a large-scale phenomenon like the Amazon river, hence the name.
Amazon’s mission and vision is to offer “Earth’s biggest selection and to be Earth’s most customer-centric company. To relentlessly focus on customer experience by offering our customers low prices, convenience, and a wide selection of merchandise.”
Amazon’s bold vision takes on the world
The statement begins with the purpose – the Why – to offer “Earth’s biggest selection and to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”
The How comes next: “To relentlessly focus on customer experience by offering our customers low prices, convenience.”
And finally, the What. Amazon offers “a wide selection of merchandise”.
Now turn that around so it reads: What, How, Why.
Amazon’s message would read something like this: “We offer a wide selection of merchandise. We focus on low prices, convenience and a good customer experience. We want to offer Earth’s biggest selection and be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”
Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the Why-focused message.
Achieving customer loyalty and repeat purchases have been key to Amazon’s success and this is because they put the customer at the heart of everything they do. This is their core value, this is their Why.
How to make your ideal customer come to you
So, bearing in mind Sinek’s words: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” try formulating your message working from Why to What, as follows:
Why – This is the core belief of the business. It’s your purpose, it’s the reason you exist. Your goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe, to attract your ideal customer. This part of your marketing message taps into that element and should come first.
How – This is how the business fulfils that core belief, the things you do to make your business special. How you help to alleviate ‘pain’ for your customer.
What – This is what the company does, the products you sell or the services you offer.
Remember, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon started out as small businesses, too. So, taking the Golden Circle concept, review your marketing message and see how it changes when you put the Why first. Use it to form the basis of your elevator pitch or for those awkward introductions at networking meetings.
To find out how Simon Sinek uses Apple’s message to illustrate his point, you can watch the full YouTube video of his Ted Talk here (the sound does get better)
Smart Insights: www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-strategy/online-business-revenue-models/amazon-case-study/
Image: Jamison McAndieTags: Golden Circle, marketing message