Why, How and What

Why, how, what imageI had the opportunity recently to view a TEDx talk by Simon Sinek on the topic of how great leaders inspire action and it really got me to thinking about why I do what I do and how the approach Simon describes might work for you as well.

His premise is that most marketing messages describe the “what” of a product — its feature and benefits. The message may also contain information on how the product provides what it provides. And it may even delve into why you are offering that product (or service) but by this time you’ve lost the attention of your audience and actually never really connected to their emotions in the first place.

I’ve often mentioned the need for messages that resonate. By this I mean messages that connect with the target audience on an emotional level. If you follow Cathey Armillos at all, you’ll recognize that she says the same thing. Purchases are driven by emotion and rationalized by logic. So it makes sense, doesn’t it, to start at the center and work outward if we want to be most successful.

Why don’t we do that? Because we weren’t trained that way. Marketing 101 gets us to convert features to benefits, of course, but it doesn’t get us to why we are offering this product or service in the first place or, more importantly, why a prospective customer should care about it.

Simon uses Apple and TIVO as examples of great successes and failures in his talk (which you can find here). Apple inspires enough people to be early adopters of its products to convince the early majority to buy them as well, even though it makes them out of the same materials that any other computer company uses. But it’s purpose is to change the way people interact with technology and it thus positions itself almost as a cause or a movement instead of as a commodity product manufacturer. Whereas TIVO, which arguably produces the highest quality video recording device, has never taken off because people didn’t believe that they needed it. It didn’t cause them to feel special through owing one.

I found that Simon’s remarks resonated with me and, if you watch the video of his talk I hope they’ll resonate with you as well. I know that I’ll think twice about whether my work with clients on markets, messages and media is helping them focus on working from the inside out — why first, then how and finally what — so that they can connect best with their prospective clients and customers.

As always, I’d love to have your remarks and opinions.  Thanks for reading.


2 Replies to “Why, How and What”

  1. Great advice on connecting with emotions. In my work that’s what matters most… helping people to be well and recover from a health crisis. Ultimately I can only help people who want to purchase my products and services, so starting with the foundation is critical to their success. I see it as my responsibility.

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