If you have kids, you’ve heard the question “Why?” a thousand times. It’s a powerful question, and when wielded by a four year old, can drive intelligent adults to their knees compelling them to resort to the time tested parent answer: “because I said so”. The reality is that our customers ask us that same question every day. Why? Why should I do business with you? Why does what you do matter? If we can answer these questions convincingly then we have a good shot at creating loyal customers, assuming our “Why” matters to them.
If your “Why” is simply to make money, you won’t create loyal customers. You’re customers aren’t excited about you making money. The real “Why” is the reason you are in business beyond making a profit. It dives into beliefs, values, etc. It’s bigger picture. And it matters.
The problem business leaders face is that they’ve done a good job answering other questions, primarily “What?” and “How?”. These questions are more about products, services, processes, differentiation, promotion, and incentives. They can create action but not necessarily loyalty. We need clear answers to these questions but we need to look at “Why” as the starting point.
Not too long ago I noticed a company that has a clear “Why” – Nature’s Bakery. I bought a box of their fig bars for my kids (although I eat as many of the bars as my kids). The ingredients are good – no artificial junk, ancient grains, etc. That’s the what/how part of things. Then I noticed a few sentences on the back of the package that answered the Why: “To give you the fuel you need to help power life’s great journeys”. That something people can get excited about and it sounds a lot better than “we’re a big corporate entity that exists to make products that create wealth for shareholders”. The product is great (it needs to be), but the Why is what can create loyalty and can help a company beyond marketing – hiring comes to mind.
I won’t ramble on much longer. Simon Sinek wrote Start With Why and in the book he gives a compelling case for why “Why” matters. Watch the TED Talk below when you get a few minutes. He gives a very good overview of “Why”. And pick up his book if you get a chance. Why? Because I said so :).