Have you ever wondered why some companies fail, others do okay, and some - the select few - make it big? Why is it that some leaders never achieve greatness and others motivate millions? What sets apart the mundane from the masterful, the indifferent from the inspirational? According to Simon Sinek, companies and people who make it big do so because the WHY behind what they’re doing is so strong. Here’s more about it:
The Golden Circle
Sinek says he has discovered a single pattern that explains why Apple is now the most profitable public company in America and why 250,000 people went to see Dr. Martin Luther King speak on a hot summer’s day in Washington DC. He calls it the Golden Circle.
Imagine three circles circumscribed inside one another, bullseye-style. The outer circle is the What. Inside What is How. And, finally, at the center, is Why.
Most people who want to sell you something, whether it be a computer or an ideal, start with the What. Something along the lines of, “We make the best computers.” Then they go into How it was made: “These computers have solid construction, a beautiful design, and are user friendly.” And then they make the pitch, “Want to buy one?”
And you think, “Ok, sure, whatever,” and move on.
Why doesn’t that make you take a second look?
It’s not because you aren’t in the market for a computer, it’s because the pitch is completely uninspiring. And it ensures that you’re buying just on price and features (which is completely important, but a game that is hard to consistently win as a business).
What if, instead, this computer company was to say something along the lines of, “We believe in challenging the status quo in everything we create and doing things differently than everyone else. We do that by making sure our products are solidly constructed, beautifully designed, and user friendly. We just happened to be in the computer business. Want to buy one?” Make you think differently about it?
Most marketing pitches, even today, go What-How-Why. Truly great pitches move in the opposite direction, Why-How-What, ensuring your potential clients know the belief backbone behind each product, behind every service. Because ultimately you’re not selling a computer or homemade jam or 15-minute oil change, you’re selling a belief.
The Power of Belief
Belief is a ridiculously powerful tool if used correctly. You can make people buy something once by offering a money-saving deal or by using fear tactics. You can make a lifelong customer base by tapping into to what people believe about themselves and the way they see the world and connecting that belief to the product or service you provide. Sound easy? It’s not. But those who make it work become hugely successful.
Whether or not a customer realizes it, her goal is to do business with people who believe what she believes. It’s all rooted in biology, in the way our brains are structured. When you speak to the why, to the core belief, you speak to the limbic system, the part of the brain that deals with feelings and decisions. They’re intrinsically linked. Your brain is wired to want to work with and buy things from people who believe what you believe.
It’s why the customers of strong companies seem like a cult following. Start by figuring out who your target audience is. Then, within your target audience find that special subset of people who adopt things early, and do so because the product they’re buying is so linked to the beliefs they have about themselves and the world that they must have it. As soon as possible. No questions asked. Those are the people who stand in line for 12 hours in the rain for the next iPhone.
And since you’re selling a belief and not one product or service, it opens your company way up to other possibilities without confusing people. “We challenge the status quo with stellar design. We do that by creating computers and mobile phones.” Not every company can successfully make that jump. This is the reason Apple, a computer company, also sells millions of phones, MP3 players, and tablets without so much as a blink from consumers.
If you want your company to go from ordinary to extraordinary, start by changing the way you see yourself and take the time to figure out your Why. Then share it with your customers. Once you have not just the result but the purpose behind what you do, other people will get on board.
If you have questions about how to Start with Why, the best person we know to talk to about it, aside from Simon Sinek himself, is our brand manager, Dawn. Give her a buzz, she’ll talk your ear off about it!