image of someone asking for directions

It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it

In Brand by Gregg BanseLeave a Comment

About 6 months ago I watched a TED Talk presented by Simon Sinek on the subject of how great leaders inspire action (see video below). What fascinates me is the idea is so simple and powerful. I believe we all instinctively judge how much we trust someone talking to us. What’s more fascinating are the reasons behind why we judge and how they can be influenced.

Example: we’re in an unfamiliar place and stop to ask for directions of a stranger. In the very moment they reply, we judge them on whether or not we trust them and if they really know how to get us there. If we sense something’s amiss, we immediately wonder what and why. Doubt helps us survive. Evolution has baked this survival trigger into our DNA. Every time a lioness sprang from the tall grasses and just missed our ancestors as they sprinted for the trees, a microscopic sticky note was pasted into our DNA – watch the tall grasses. But as marketers, we need more than to just remove doubt. We need passion.

Selling a product or service, the what, isn’t very inspiring. It’s the why that get’s people excited. Sinek uses the examples of Apple, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers. Apple believes in beautiful form and function. Dr. King believed in equality. The Wright brothers believed men could fly. Their beliefs are easy to identify with and inspired others. But it was their passion and commitment to their beliefs that made them successful.

Online we’re complete strangers, totally anonymous until we make the effort to share something about ourselves. We don’t need to tell someone our life story or that we like peanut butter. But it’s in our best interest to give context and for that context to have meaning other than profit. If people understand the why they’re not only less suspicious but may even become enthusiastic buyers or better yet, evangelists.

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