I recently watched a Ted Talks video featuring Simon Sinek, an Anthropologist turned marketing genius (the two things really go hand in hand don’t they). In his talk, “How great leaders inspire action”, he illustrates why companies like Apple are so much more innovative in their approach to marketing than any other company.
The secret? They started with the question, “why?”.
This sounds like an easy enough question to answer. All of us should know what drives us, but then, why is it that so few companies can tell us exactly why it is that they’re doing what they do. What is the underlying belief, the core philosophy on which the industry is built?
Sinek explains in his talk, that the most intuitive and obvious way to sell a product or service is to start with the “what”.
For example, Apple could start by saying, “we sell computers”. Next, the company would want to illustrate “how” they are different from their competitors. Apple might say, “our computers are beautifully designed and easy to use”. Most companies fail to illustrate the “why” at all, (maybe they don’t even know it themselves) instead ending their pitch with an uninspiring, “want to buy one?”.
But apple doesn’t market this way. Instead they flip the conventional marketing method on it’s head and start by talking about what they represent.
Their pitch goes something like this:
Why: “We believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently”
How: “We do this through beautiful designs, that are easy to use”
What: “We just happen to sell computers, want to buy one?”
Sinek’s mantra throughout this presentation was, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
If you don’t know why you do what you do, what your mission is, then you can’t expect anyone, clients or the people who work for you, to have any loyalty or trust in you.
Is this type of marketing really necessary though? People might support Apple’s philosophy, but they are ultimately going to buy a computer based on facts and figures, not a philosophy, right?
Sinek says that the opposite is true. If you look at the human brain, the part that deals with facts and logic, the Neocortex, is actually not the one responsible for our decision making.
That job belongs to our Limbic Brain, which also, happens to be what responds to the “How’ and “Why”. The Limbic brain is responsible for our “gut feelings”, like trust and loyalty. It has no capacity for language, which is why people often can’t express why they feel a certain way about something, and might say, “it just feels right”.
In other words, people understand all the facts and figures, but those don’t drive behavior. When you reach someone at an emotional level, you speak to the inner brain (the decision maker) first, and then allow people to rationalize their decision with the facts afterwards.
When you start by stating your believes, you will attract people who believe in the same thing. Those people, be they clients or employees, will be committed to the same cause.
That’s the difference between having employees who will do enough work for a paycheck, and having a team who will pour their souls into a project, not for their boss, but for themselves, because it’s a cause they believe in too.
That’s the difference between having customers, and establishing a committed community of supporters.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
September 22th 2013