Don't Sell the 'What', Sell the 'Why'

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

These are the words of innovation consultant and best-selling author, Simon Sinek. In his popular TED talk, ‘Start With Why’, Sinek explains that there’s a simple principle behind every successful person and business.

Below we explore Sinek’s concept and outline how you can steer your business by the ‘why’ to inspire action and drive success. 

The Golden Circle

According to Sinek, most businesses market their products in the wrong way. And their results reflect this.

Let’s look at an example of a standard car company’s marketing strategy.

They first tell the consumer what they do (make great cars). Then they say how they’re different (their features are more desirable than the competition). And this argument is why you should do what they want (buy the car).

Sound familiar? This is the old method. And according to Sinek, it’s not working.

It’s not effective because consumers are being talked at, but not convinced. However, if you start with the why and work your way back, it’ll be a very different story.

Apple’s marketing strategy

They start with the why.

The question: Why should you care? Their answer: Because in everything they do, they believe in challenging the status quo (see Apple’s Think Different campaign).

Then there’s the how.

The question: How are they different? Their answer: Because their products are beautifully designed and easy to use.

And then comes the what.

The question: What do they do? Their answer: They just happen to make great computers.

The Power of Identity and Emotion

At no point are Apple asking you to buy their products. Instead, they’re selling their values and process. And that’s what’s really powerful.

We want Apple products because we want to align our identity with their brand identity.

What does this mean?

Well, Apple positions itself as the market disruptor, the product for the creative mind. It does this through clever branding and ensuring their communication always starts with the ‘why’.

Further, studies show that businesses that have a strong brand identity not only produce loyal customers who are highly satisfied, they also experience up to 95% more profits in the longer-term.

This is because consumers connect on an emotional level. They want to be a part of Apple’s ‘community of disruptors’. And so they’ll keep buying the next product as soon as it hits the market.

This isn’t to say that other brands aren’t capable of doing what Apple has done. For example, Dell also makes good computers, at a cheaper cost. However, when they released an mp3 player, no one was interested. The same is true with Microsoft’s tablet range.

They just weren't Apple, and as such, they "just didn't feel right."

This brings us back to Sinek’s point. We don’t buy what companies do, we buy why they do it. And Apple gives us plenty of reasons to love their company and then buy their products.

Sinek teaches us that people need motivation to act. And when you begin by asking why, you give people a reason to be emotionally involved and inspired into action.

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