Digital disruption is challenging many companies in traditional industries and service organisations. Surviving significant change requires new ways of thinking and a strategic mindset.

Leaders must reimagine and reinvent the business itself.

And it’s not only a digital future which presents a challenge.  Just delivering the products and services on offer consistently and at profit is rarely straightforward.  Add in the need to be compliant to one or more regulatory regimes and the constant need to innovate to stay relevant and provide value to the customer, and each passing month of successful trading is a considerable achievement.

Why is the reason to buy

Irrespective of market sector, delivering value to customers must be the prime purpose of any company, yet many companies struggle to differentiate or communicate their true value to the outside world.

Arguably, there are two ways to attract customers so that you can deliver value to them
    – inspiration or manipulation.

Manipulations such as price, features, service & quality may win business, but these are short-term solutions which need repeating. Continuing too far down this path impacts long-term profitability.

People don’t buy What you do, they buy Why you do it.   Simon Sinek

Every company in the world knows What they do, so it’s the first thing that they tell people about.

Why is the reason to buy. If consumers understand that your company exists to challenge the status quo and to empower the individual, or a similar visible and consistent behaviour, they are likely to be inspired to buy without any manipulations.

Inspire customers to buy, so that you don’t have to manipulate to sell – avoid the competitive race to the bottom

Your products and services deliver capabilities that underpin the value you provide and build trust in the customer. But knowing Why you do this is even more important.

You’ve probably heard that before you start a business, market research is key. You do your market research, create a business plan, thoroughly get to understand your target customer and then build your niche.

Sinek, however, disagrees. According to Sinek, the Why does not come from looking ahead at what you want to achieve and then figuring out an appropriate strategy to get there. It is not borne out of market research or for that matter even extensive interviews with consumers or employees. It comes from looking in a different direction from where you are right now. Finding the Why is a process of discovery, not invention.

What is the greater purpose of your business?

People buy a Harley-Davidson because it represents a lifestyle, not simply a mode of transport.
People buy Apple products because they are design-led and high-quality, not simply functional.
People buy foreign currency to achieve travel ambition, not just to pay a hotel bill.

Trust begins to emerge when potential customers see that people and organisations are driven by reasons that go beyond the self-serving. We need to consistently communicate the Why of your company.

What and differentiation

Companies that act like commodity producers have a constant challenge to differentiate themselves from the competition. Chasing competitors, trying to match them feature-for-feature, manipulation by manipulation, only deepens the What culture.

Why must be at the heart of what your business does

Why and flexibility

Because consumers are inspired by Why you do what you do, companies that begin communicating with the Why have a greater flexibility in the market.

Take the example of Apple and Dell. Apple makes computers. Apple also makes iPads and iPhones. Their Why is that their products are beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Dell, on the other hand, is defined by What they do. Dell does computers, so consumers don’t feel comfortable buying anything else from them like, say, a tablet or a smartphone. Dell tried expanding into different verticals but quickly retreated to “focus on their core business”.

Take the case of Creative versus Apple. Creative was far more capable of producing an mp3 player, and they were the first to do so. But they marketed their offering as a “5GB mp3 player”, a What, a so-what?  Instead, Apple marketed the iPod as “1000 songs in your pocket” giving us the Why that we needed to buy it. Which we did.

Why and hiring

When employees belong, they will guarantee your success. And they won’t be working hard and looking for an innovative solution for you, they will be doing it for themselves.

The goal is to hire those who are passionate about your Why, your purpose, cause or belief, and who have the attitude that fits your culture. Once that is established, only then should their skillset and experience be evaluated.

Great companies do not hire skilled people and motivate them; they hire already motivated people and inspire them. Companies with a strong sense of Why are able to inspire their employees. Such employees are more productive and innovative, and the feeling they bring to work attracts other people eager to work there as well.

Start with Why but know How

Energy motivates but charisma inspires. All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarity of Why, an undying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves.

But … the visionary Why must be brought to life.

How is the realistic and practical implementation of the Why. The How is the principles and behaviours that guide actions and decisions on a day-to-day basis, as overlaid on the company’s people, process and tooling. How is the leadership which determines how the What gets done and which underpins how your customers receive the value you provide.

Why and value

We’ve asked Why does your company exist? (not profits; profits are the result.) Inspiring people to buy from you requires a real purpose, a Why. Customers identify with brands that articulate a clear Why and cannot identify with the What without the Why.

Articulating your value and then delivering that value for your customers is made easier when you have clarity on the primary purpose for which your business exists.

Next: What is the value my business sells?

In this post we’ve stated that the prime aim of any company must be that customers receive value; but what is value? We discuss that in What is the value my business sells?

What is the value my business sells?
The results of your efforts to create value are measured in the customers’ perception of that value. But customer value is all about subjective perceptions, which can only be influenced, not controlled.