How Starting With Why Impacts Your Content Marketing
What is ‘start with why’?
In his TEDx talk, ‘start with why’ Simon Sinek lays the groundwork of why all organizations should start with why. This means that when meeting a potential customer, they should tell their customer what drives them, rather than what they do. Simon Sinek uses an example that shows how Apple was able to lay the groundwork for so much innovation, and why their audience readily followed them. Apple started with why they do it (“everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo – we believe in thinking differently”), then how (“the way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly”) and only then do they tell people what form it takes (“we just happen to make great computers – want to buy one?”).
He compares Apple to IBM and explains why Apple was successfully able to launch an mp3 player (the iPod) and yet IBM failed. IBM had engaged their customers on what they did (make computers), and so when they produced an mp3 player, the customers became confused – why would they buy a music device from a computer manufacturer? Because Apple had sold an ideology, not a product, their audience was far more willing to follow when they brought out their new music device, as it fitted into the brand’s ideology and culture.
The impact of starting with why
It seems unbelievable that the original talk was delivered almost 10 years ago, yet the ripple effects are still being felt today. Your ‘why’ is a clear statement that summarizes why you do what you do. By starting with ‘why’ your audience buys into your very reason for being, your purpose, and is likely to support you for longer. If you start with ‘what’ you do, your audience will come to you for a single product but is likely to move on afterwards. By starting with ‘what’ you’ve given them no real reason to be loyal to you over someone else.
This is all very interesting, but how does starting with ‘why’ impact your content marketing?
Your why helps to communicate clearly your purpose
In the example of Apple, they early on set out their brand ideology – why they existed rather than what. Their marketing campaigns didn’t speak about their new computers, they set out a landscape – the ‘Think Different’ campaign very effectively embedded themselves within a culture of innovators. At a time where most organizations were utilizing the ‘what’, this really made them stand out. They knew their purpose, and their audience could connect with it. Apple’s audience felt that they were part of something bigger than themselves.
By identifying your ‘why’ you’re getting to the heart of your organization’s purpose. By championing your purpose, people have something that they can engage with. This helps them to stay with you for the longer term, not just for a single transaction. People know what they’re buying into, and it’s more likely to encourage customer loyalty.
By identifying and communicating a clear purpose throughout all of your content marketing, your audience is much more likely to walk with you for longer.
How knowing your why should impact your content marketing
It can be all too easy to worry about specific platforms, and not see your content marketing as an overall landscape. Irrespective of which platform you are using, identifying your ‘why’, gives a clear foundation to base all your communication on.
We see too many organizations who get so worried about communicating every part of ‘what’ they’re doing, that their communication becomes scattergun. The organizations that stand out are the ones that stand on a clear bedrock of ‘why’ and test each piece of their marketing against this. It may sound dramatic, but, if your content marketing at any point is not in line with your ‘why’, don’t put the content out.
As much as this is true for any original content you produce for your content marketing, it also holds true for any content that you curate. By knowing a clear sense of why you do what you do, you’ll then also able to measure against this any content you plan to curate. It’s all well and good re-tweeting a mate’s business tweet, but unless this is in line with your why, then you’re going to muddy your own message in the eyes of your audience.
For example, if you’re a luxury perfume brand and you re-tweet a mate’s printing business based in the local market. The re-tweet may well support them, but if their brand is not luxury, it will make your own brand look cheaper, and therefore confuse your audience.
By starting with why, it is easier to know which messages will help support your brand and enhance trust with your audience, and which won’t.
It’s worth noting that it’s not a compelling reason for any business to state that their reason for being is ‘to make money’. It’s not going to communicate to your customers or supporters why they should engage with you, nor hold their loyalty. There are many ways to make money and far easier ones than starting a business.
You need to give your customers or supporters a reason as to why they should invest their money in your services or product.
Your why helps you to connect with others
Knowing your ‘why’ doesn’t just impact your content marketing when implemented well, it impacts all of your communication. By working out a clear way of communicating your purpose, your purpose and values should then underpin everything you communicate. Ensuring that all of your content marketing is in line with these, presents a clear picture to your audience. When you start with why, all following communication becomes clearer and more defined. Rather than scattergun, your why helps to refine your focus and make your communication clear.
Your communication will work in synergy across all your platforms, delivering one clear message to your clients. When you convey a clear image to your clients about why you do something, they’ll be more interested in what you do. Don’t just take our word for it – brands such as Charity: Water, Who Gives a Crap and Coppafeel! have gained huge audiences in recent years because they clearly start with why.