Do not sell a product. Instead, sell a solution, hope, and an idea.
Imagine you are walking down the street in the park, and you see two homeless people sitting on the bench with a piece of paper in hand and a cap for money on the ground.
One of them has an empty cap and a piece of paper, stating:
I am blind, please, donate.
You move on and see another man with a cap full of money. You notice him holding a piece of paper with the following message:
It is spring, but I am blind.
The message goes to the deepest part of your soul. You stop to reflect and help this stranger who asks for nothing but touches the hearts of people passing by.
The story does not only teach us to be kind and generous towards other people. It reveals a powerful business lesson that every entrepreneur, marketer, and business owner need to remember:
Always start with why. People are not interested in who you are and what you do. They want to know why you do it.
Simon Sinek, a famous American writer and motivational speaker, has developed the Why model and presented it in his TED Talk, “How great leaders inspire action.”
His concept reveals the fundamental difference of any company that thinks big and wins customers’ love.
It challenges the status quo at its core when identifying your intrinsic motivation and purpose for what you want to do in business and life.
Surprisingly, behind every human decision, there is psychology, irrational thinking, and biology.
The “Why” Model Is Not a Theory — It’s Biology
Sinek claims that why is probably the most important message a business or an individual should communicate as it inspires others to act.
He explains that communicating intrinsic motivations through the why is a way to successfully transmit information to the listener's limbic brain. It is a part of the human body that supports emotions, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, decision-making, and processes feelings such as trust and loyalty.
Addressing the why is an impactful way to influence others’ behavior ethically.
According to Sinek, you need to start with why and ask these three questions before launching your business.
These questions should help you leverage the competition and establish tight connections with your customers.
1. “Why?” Why you believe your business should exist
Whenever you come up with a new business idea — always start with why. Why do you want to run a business? Why do you believe your business is different from someone else’s business? Why do you think customers should choose your products or services?
According to Sinek, why is your core belief and a valid reason for doing what you do.
Understanding the why is essential to know how to communicate how and what.
2. “How?” How your business addresses your core beliefs
Once you understand the motivations behind you doing your business, you need to articulate how you do it. In other words, how your business works, how your business activities support and help to achieve your core believes.
Let me give you an example from my practice. I work as a marketing manager at a UX agency. You might guess that our core service is a website or an app design, but it is boring to sell it this way.
As Simon Sinek well-said:
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe. In fact, people will do the things that prove what they believe.”
As a UX company, we seek to shape and impact the digital future by designing the products that people love to use.
Why: “To make an impact; to leave the footprint; to improve our digital world.”
How: “By designing digital products people love to use.”
We do not sell a service. We sell hope and an idea, where customers can join and bring their impact to make our world a better place to live. This is how the business can fulfill the core belief and inspire customers to take action.
3. “What?” What you can do to fulfill your beliefs
For a business, it is a product or a service. For an individual, it might be a job title. What communicates rational things that rarely trigger human emotions. It serves as an information source to educate and explain what your company does.
If you focus on what only, you might end up being among hundreds of companies that look equal.
Successful people and organizations express why they do what they do; they sell a romantic future and a solution to a specific problem rather than focusing on what the product can do.
Why? Because it works, and here is how.
Customers Do Not Buy Products, They Buy Solutions
People do not buy products or services. They buy solutions to their problems that would make their life easier. They buy benefits, experiences, and pleasant emotions.
People love to get attached to stories and be part of something big. Thus, companies reposition their purpose of existence to attract customers who share their fundamental beliefs.
Let’s take Netflix as an example. You, as a customer, do not just buy a subscription to watch movies and series online. Netflix sells you a solution to your problem.
Netflix saves you precious time, provides pleasant moments and joy. You can watch movies anytime, without bugs, ads, and low content quality.
We all want to make our lives better, manage more things faster, surround ourselves with people and items that would motivate and inspire us, work less, and enjoy our lives more. We all want to do it, but we do not know how to do it.
Define intrinsic people’s needs and wants to transform them into solutions.
Because Netflix starts with why, when defining its goal, it can attract customers who share its fundamental beliefs.
Why makes Netflix more than just an on-demand video streaming platform. It has become an essential part of each home that unites families together and creates great memories.
If you start a business, you do it for your customers, not for yourself. You enter a race with your offer and compete with other players.
However, people’s attention is scattered, and the ability to remember the information is limited. You only have a moment to communicate your message and convince them to choose your company. Otherwise, they are gone.
“Start with why. People do not buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” — Simon Sinek
If you are a solopreneur who wants to start a business or a company owner who wants to scale — always start with why. Hold on for a minute to reflect on why you do what you do, how it might serve others, which consumer problems your business solves, and why your customers should choose you.
There is no shortage of business opportunities, they are like buses — there is always another one coming. But it depends on you which one you choose and which direction it goes.
Article originally published to Medium
Written by Victoria Kurichenko