As a business owner or entrepreneur, are you clear on your ‘why’?

Why do you do what you do? Why did you start your business? What’s driving you to continue? On some level it will of course be the financial gain, but this is more a result—your why is your purpose. It’s what gets you out of bed each day to put your heart and soul into your work. Or go that extra mile for your customer—just because.

When we think about what might attract our target audience, we tend to focus on the features and benefits of our product or service and sideline our why. As it turns out, however, this could be incredibly detrimental to business.

In his inspirational TEDx Talk, Simon Sinek outlines how all of the world’s most successful enterprises market their why as a primary driving force to connect with their audience. Because here’s the thing. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Let’s explore this further.

1. Behaviour is driven by emotion

Basic psychology tells us that emotion is what triggers behaviour. We don’t act out of anger without first feeling angry. The same goes with our shopping habits—we don’t buy something without first feeling an emotional response to a product. Just like yours, your consumers’ purchases are driven by how you make them feel. Of course there will always be people who are driven by cost and will simply seek out the cheapest product/service on the market. Yet, even one who is driven by cost can be inspired to become a loyal follower of a brand when given the right incentive.

Your why can be that powerful. It’s what drives the desire to continue a relationship beyond just one transaction. It starts a conversation that is imbued with passion and tells your customer that you’re in this for more than just their money—you actually care about what you do. That drives the kind of emotion that translates to long-lasting, loyal customers.

2. Your why inspires people to both follow you and to act

As the CEO or founder, you’re typically responsible for filtering down your why. It’s your why that drives the vision and values of your company. When there is congruency here, from the top down, it inspires employees to behave and act in alignment with a company’s vision. This is one of the differences between leading and being a leader—when you lead by communicating and acting on your why, it inspires others to do the same. This then reflects your overall brand identity to your customers which in turn ignites an emotional response and prompts them to act.

3. Preach to the converted

Do you think it’s best to reach as many people as possible or to specifically target people who have similar values and beliefs as you? The old model would of course suggest you that you get out to the masses and try to convert but actually, focusing on the minority can be much more effective. If you attract those who already believe what you believe, they become your ambassadors. These days, social proof is worth its weight in gold and if you can get people talking about you, you’ll begin to amass a greater following. So preach to the converted and get them to the hard work for you. Remember though, it’s important that your product or service backs up what these early influencers say about your brand. Authenticity and trust are key to successful branding.