Unleashing the Power of 'Why' –Farquharson/Tedesco
Why is Apple so wildly successful? Business leadership expert Simon Sinek has a theory, which he puts forth in his crazy-popular TED talk.
Most businesses, Sinek says, focus first on what they do, then on how they do it and lastly why they do it (if they get to the why at all). Apple takes the exact opposite approach:
STEP 1—Lead with Why—Everything Apple does is done to challenge the status quo.
STEP 2—Explain How—Apple makes products that are beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.
STEP 3—Close with the What—Apple just happens to make computers. Want to buy one?
Doesn't this bring a tear to your eye? It does to us, a pair of grizzled printing industry authors. Apple creates market differentiation, influences public perception and helps ensure that every Apple product, every Apple store and every Apple marketing campaign are all working towards one memorable, admirable goal: thinking differently. It's so simple! And compelling!
Why don't printing companies talk about themselves that way? We give lip service to being a "communications provider" or a "business partner" for our customers. But how well—and how frequently—does this really come across in your company's messaging?
Embrace the power of leading with "why." You may find it's the best differentiator your printing company has. Maybe the only one you need.
People Don't Buy What You Do—They Buy "Why" You Do It. Your customers buy a heck of a lot more than ink on paper. They buy a good night's sleep, a solution to their problems and the security of working with your brand. These things have little to do with your "what," but chances are they're tied closely to your "why."
Good salespeople understand this. Imagine two print reps in a prospect's office. They've both been asked to describe why they deserve the prospect's business. Salesperson A has chosen to lead with a "what" message. Salesperson B? He's focusing on "why."
Salesperson A: "We prep. We print. We bind. We mail."
Salesperson B: "Every thing we do is focused on making you look good and driving better results. Print is how we do it. Now, let me tell you about our capabilities…"
Which one do you think sells more?
Your "why" is what builds long-term business relationships. Leading with "what" usually gets you nowhere, because most printers' "whats" tend to be pretty darn similar. Focus on "what," and your customers might buy out of habit, because you're close or because you're cheap. But they won't buy because they care about your company. And they'll eagerly jump ship when they find a lower price—or a company that can better communicate its "why."
"Why" Promotes Messaging Consistency and Simplicity. Distill your company's reason for being into a "why" statement. This makes it easy for all employees to stay on the same page.
It's easier for you to explain your business in terms of "why." "Why" is also easier for customers to understand. Take "we make your life easier—every day"—just one possible "why" statement for a printer. Isn't that easy as pie to understand? Isn't it obvious to your customers why they should care?
"Why" Focuses on Benefits. If you've got the newest state-of-the-art equipment, great. Resist the urge to spit out features. Instead connect this equipment to your "why" statement. Does your new large-format press cut turnaround times on some work in half? Then, you can plausibly say it connects to a "why" statement of "we live to make our customers' lives easier."
Arm your sales staff with "why" messages. Then, they'll sell based on the long-term value your company offers—not your machinery. Leading with features won't inspire buying behavior, and it sure as heck won't produce long-term customer loyalty. Then, what reason will customers have to use you?
"Why" Creates New Market Opportunities. Few businesses want to be pigeonholed as the provider of just one product or service. Framing your business in terms of "why" gets you out of this trap.
Back to Apple, one last time. Apple has long infused their "why" statement—"Think Different"—into everything they've done. Yes, they started as a computer company, but that soon became almost an afterthought.
"Why" is malleable. General, but compelling, slogans like "Think Different" can be applied to virtually any product. This is one reason why Apple has moved seamlessly into the phone, TV, tablet and other electronics markets, while many of its competitors—hello, Dell—have had trouble diversifying.
"Why" in Action—a Lesson from Health Care IT. One of your authors has a client in Silicon Valley's health care IT industry. When the business relationship began more than six years ago, this company had a problem: many potential customers didn't understand what they did because the company's messaging was caught up in technical details. They'd failed to compellingly answer the "why" question for prospects.
This company had an impressive "why" message up its sleeve. They exist to make hospitals safer, to make health care safer and to ultimately make the world safer. A little more compelling than "we offer software solutions for health care organizations," isn't it?
Making "Why" Real for Your Printing Company. Here are some tips for developing and communicating your "why" message. Be ambitious and broad reaching. Your "why" statement should be big.
Try finishing these three sentences. "My company exists because___. Our purpose is to___. Other people should care because___." This exercise might be all you need to arrive at your compelling "why" message.
Now, let the world know. Develop marketing content to support your new message. Run your "why" message through your:
• Video content—Create a brief flash video that concisely and compellingly answers the "why-how-what" question. This will engage your customers and prospects more than another "history of X company" corporate YouTube video.
• Web, social media and collateral materials—If it's short enough, print your company's "why" message on everyone's business cards. Print it on your company letterhead. Your invoices and brochures. Your pens, flashlights and any other knickknacks you give out to customers.
• Outbound Marketing—Give every promotional message this simple test: "Does this support and further our 'why' statement?" If not, redo it.
• Case studies/testimonials—Details still matter. Make "why" real for your customers and prospects. Support your "why" with case studies, testimonials and other proof points.
• Internal messaging—Drive home your "why, how and what" with employees. Create a simple, one-page document—if your "why, how and what" can't fit on one page, that's a problem. Distribute this document to employees.
We'll leave you with our own "why" statement. Why do we write this column every month? Because we care deeply about helping printers sell more in a fiercely challenging and competitive era for our industry. Now that should keep you coming back every month!
Here's a bit of homework for you. Carve 18:05 out of your day and watch Simon Sinek's TED Talk. Google it. By the way, one of Google's core beliefs is that if you focus on the end user, all else will follow. Your authors kind of like that one, too! PI
—T.J. Tedesco, Bill Farquharson
About the Columnists
T.J. Tedesco is team leader of Grow Sales, a marketing and PR services company that has served graphic arts companies since 1996. He wrote "Direct Mail Pal 2012" and seven other books. Contact Tedesco at (301) 294-9900 or e-mail email@example.com. Bill Farquharson is the president of Aspire For. Through his Sales Challenge and Tuesday eWorkshop training programs, Farquharson can help drive your sales. Visit his Website at www.aspirefor.com or call him at (781) 934-7036.