What’s your, “why”?
It seems like a fairly simple question, but business owners rarely answer it for themselves. They know what they want to sell. They know where they’d like to be financially. They know their sales forecasts, their overhead, and who their customers are.
But they don’t know their WHY.
In Start With Why, Simon Sinek has a powerful statement about this very idea:
“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
It’s been quoted again and again. Branding experts discuss it. Sinek even has an incredibly popular TEDTalk about this concept.
But, before we go further, let’s discuss why (see what we did there?) purpose is such a compelling marketing tool.
A Sense of Purpose
We all want to be a part of something. It’s in our nature as a species. It gives us community, comfort, support, a feeling of belonging, and — you guessed it — a sense of purpose.
How do brands find their way into this? By standing for something.
This purpose — or a brand’s why — works on two levels: For your customers (externally) and for your employees (internally).
Internally, your purpose guides all of the decisions surrounding your business. If your purpose as a juice company is to create a world where people are happier and healthier, every decision that is made will be guided by that principle.
Every. Single. One.
This means you’re able to delegate to your team. They know the beacon, the guiding light, the purpose. They understand that and they’re able to make decisions based on this guiding factor.
One of the most cited and talked about brands which incorporates this credo is Patagonia. Everything they do revolves around their mission statement: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
And they mean it.
There was the time they donated all of their Black Friday sales to the environment. The time they decided to revamp their product line to use organically grown cotton because it was less harmful to the environment. Or the time when they advertised that they would repair your old Patagonia clothing instead of advertising for you to buy more from them.
That’s living your purpose. And their employees see it. And their customers see it.
Which brings us to the second, external level on which purpose works: In the hearts and minds of your customers.
In Patagonia’s case, people are getting behind a movement that’s bigger than themselves. That’s a huge motivator, especially for the Millennial generation and their $200 billion in buying power.
But now we know what you’re thinking: “I’m not a global brand. I’m not a Patagonia or an Apple. What does this have to do with me?”
Ask yourself a few questions:
Whose lifestyle are you fulfilling?
What value are you adding to your customers’ lives?
Are you saving people time so they can spend it how they want?
Are you helping people make money so they can afford what they want?
Are you helping people be healthier so they can live a more meaningful life?
Figure out what that hook or niche or need you’re fulfilling. Then double-down with authenticity and honesty. No one likes a fake.
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