I’ve recently read the international best seller, Start With Why by Simon Sinek. As I read it, it felt like I’d hit on an underlying assumption that runs through Watertight Marketing – which is essentially a go-to-market methodology. You need to know what you are selling, and to whom, in order for it to really work for you. And, this starts with knowing WHY. Accredited Consultant, Rachael Wheatley and I chatted this through and she’s also enjoyed the Sinek book. So, I’ve asked her to summarise our conversation. ~ Bryony Thomas

Are you ready to apply Watertight Marketing to your business?

Being ready to develop a Watertight Marketing plan includes a number of things:

  • knowing what your mission is,
  • having a thought-through growth strategy,
  • a financial plan, knowing why people buy from you,
  • how they buy it and real clarity around what you sell.

Until these are in place, you simply won’t be able to put together a go-to-market plan. Notice what’s at the beginning of that list – your mission, the purpose of your business.

Be clear about WHY you do it

Most businesses are really clear about WHAT they sell. If someone asks what your business does, the natural and easy-to-articulate response is “we sell widgets”. Articulating this consistently is extremely important, as detailed in Peter Baynes’ recent post.

The person you’re talking to might be interested in widgets, might even be interested in buying one, but it’s hardly an explanation that is going to inspire or engage them and encourage them to delve a bit deeper. The same is true of your customers. If they are looking at your website and want to find out what you do, it’s safe to say that most companies would find it easy to articulate firstly the products or services they offer and then the features which make them different.

But imagine if your response to the question “what does your business do?” were something like this:

When we first started our business, we were passionate about making people’s lives easier. We wanted to create a product that was easy to use, be widely available to buy and wouldn’t need a PhD to understand how it worked. So we created the widget.

Now imagine you communicate that message on the home page of your website. From which company would you be more motivated to buy?

Being able to say WHY you do what you do is so much more powerful than listing all of the great features your product or service has. The reasons why are because:

  • at the start of their buying journey, people make decisions on emotion, not logic, so you will be mapping your marketing to their (emotional) needs at the right point. (See: Are you serving a Logic Sandwich?)
  • your messages initially attract people’s attention by emphathising with them: “Do you feel like this?”
  • too much logic, too soon switches them off – that’s not how their buying brain is working at that point (they go on to look at logical needs later in the buying process, so your messages need to change then)

If you cannot say WHY, you cannot craft the right emotional message

There’s a virtuous circle here: people who “feel like this” are exactly the type of customers you want.

They are aligning themselves to your WHY. Because you’re attracting the right kind of customers, you’ll also be doing the right kind of work – the kind that you’re passionate about doing. And doing the right kind of work is one of the foundations of being Watertight-ready. (See: What are the Four Foundation Leaks?)

“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it”

This is the thinking that runs through Simon Sinek’s inspiring book Start with Why. Starting with WHY makes it easier for people to buy from you; they are interested in finding out more because they like what you say about your WHY.

If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it will show when you’re selling to your customers. The product or service you’re selling will then be proof of that belief. Because what you’re selling is congruent with that belief, you’ll come across as authentic. In turn, this helps build relationships and trust.

One of the problems with only knowing WHAT you do is that it doesn’t build loyalty. It focuses solely on the features and benefits of what you do (price, quality, attributes, service). It might well result in a transaction, a one-off purchase, but my guess is that actually what you want is to make sure your customers still feel great about their decision to buy from you, just after they part with their cash and for a long time afterwards.

Using my example above, if your WHY was to make life easier for people and your WHAT is widgets that do this, then making sure you refer back to the why after they have just bought their first widget from you would involve something like this:

Now that you’ve bought from us, we’d like to let you know what it will be like to be one of our valued customers. If you’re looking for another widget, re-ordering is quick and simple, all you have to do is… If you’d like to contact us you can call us on this number or email us at this address and we promise there will always be someone there to help you answer your question that day. And, our manuals on how to use widgets are short and written in a non-technical, easy-to-understand way with absolutely no jargon.

Because it’s the WHY that builds trust and relationships, knowing it is essential for long-term results. If you want to get away from that yo-yo marketing diet, which only results in short-term and transient gains, you need to know why you’re dieting in the first place. It’s the same with marketing and sales – if you want to get away from yo-yo marketing, you need to know WHY you’re marketing what you’re selling. And until you know that, you are not Watertight-ready.

© Watertight Marketing Ltd 

By Rachael Wheatley, Watertight Marketing Certified Practitioner. Rachael is a strategic marketing consultant in the South West with a particular strength for integrating sales and marketing for long-term commercial success. with a focus on knowledge businesses and professional services. See Rachael’s full profile


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