The ‘real’ Why-Story
To create a powerful connection with your tribe, inspire trust and loyalty, become a leader in your field and have your ideal clients lining up to buy from you, you should start with “why”!
In his famous TED talk, Start with Why, with over 3 million views, and best-selling book, Simon Sinek gave us the simple Golden Circle Formula that promised to do just that. Simply put: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Did his formula convince people? It would seem so if you look at most of the content marketing: it’s purpose, cause and belief that jump out at you. Speakers start with ‘why’ in order to get us, their audience, emotionally involved. Their ‘why’ should suck us into a commonality of shared values, so that we automatically self-identify and are instantly eager to buy!
But that’s not what actually happened for us!
Clients didn’t line up to buy after we’d bared our purpose.. Nor did we quickly become successful leaders in our field because of sharing our beliefs.
Is it me, or is it the formula?
Why didn’t the formula work for us?
It didn’t work for a very simple reason. One size does not fit all! What works for Apple, does not seamlessly downscale for the small enterprise.
The blind-spot in Sinek’s formula (which he’s subsequently revised) runs through so much marketing material, particularly how we misuse storytelling. Starting with your ‘why’, or telling your unique story, is simply too much too soon. It’s equivalent to planning a big joint family get-together on the first date.
Unlike Sinek’s examples, the ‘ordinary’ small business owner, i.e. people like you and me, are not (yet) famous, have not achieved celebrity status and do not command immediate attention when they post on social medial or stand on a podium.
The hard reality is this: people are actually not interested in our ‘why’, nor in our unique, authentic stories. They are initially interested only in their own!
How do we, the not-yet-famous entrepreneur, get the attention of our potential clients, hold it long enough to covert them into ideal clients, eager to buy from us?
We start with their ‘why’, not ours.
We provide a satisfactory answer to the primary why-question of our potential clients: “Why should I give you my attention?”
And to answer that crucial question effectively, you have to tell them a story that makes them feel that you know them, i.e. who they are, what they struggle with and what they really want.
In other words, your opening story lets them know that you care about them. You do that by addressing THEIR fundamental concerns. The pivotal issue here is this. If you can’t answer THEIR “why” (“Why should I give you my attention?”) convincingly, you will never get to the point where YOUR “why” is relevant to them.
The Golden Rule of getting your clients attention: Your introductory story is NOT about you. It’s about your CLIENTS.
That means your story has to first get THEIR attention. To do that you tell them what you can do for THEM. That creates a sense of curiosity about you and a bridge to why you do what you do.
Here’s a quick neuro-scientific explanation for that important sequence.
Think lizard brain, i.e. our gut instinct, our automatic Yes-No-Response. It’s concerned only with our survival and self-preservation and is activated when we are confronted with ‘threats’, such as new situations or new people.
When our lizard brain is turned on, we’re not capable of tuning into someone else’s story.
We can only connect with and build sustainable relationships with new people after their lizard brain response has been calmed. And we do that by reassuring them that we know who they are and what their struggles and desires are.
Only then can we engage with their limbic brain – that’s the part responsible for emotions and feelings. Simply put: when we move them into the limbic brain, their in-built defence mechanism is lowered and they are ready to move into relationship building, i.e. engage with our story. We can start an interactive dialogue!
What’s the impact of this on your marketing?
Starting with your ‘why’ is equivalent to a farmer who throws seeds on a barren, uncultivated field and expects a bumper crop because the seeds are good quality.
Starting with your client’s ‘why’ is when the farmer first creates fertile ground and only then sows the seeds.