The other day, I wrote a blog post about the four key elements you need to create your platform.
Today, I want to zone in on the last of the four – the deeper why and bigger cause of your business.
It’s a simple question: ‘why do you do what you do?’
But it’s one that most entrepreneurs never reflect on.
I recently finished reading Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start With Why’. And, over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing my reflections on it. You can watch a 20 minute video of him giving the heart of the book here.
You started your business for a reason.
What was that reason? What is this business really about for you? At the heart of it? What has it become for you?
One of the things that is most overlooked in marketing is sharing ‘why’ we do things.
And it matters.
When people don’t understand the deeper ‘why’ behind what you do . . .
You will get pigeon holed in whatever it is you do that they first heard of. And you won’t be able to get out. You’ll get known for the boat. Case in point: what does Xerox make? The immediate answer in your mind was clearly photocopiers. What does Dell make? Computers. They make boats. They are known for the quality of their boats. If they tried to make a different kind of boat? Disaster. Xerox launched a brand of personal computers once. They were really good. Remember them? Exactly. Dell tried to create an MP3 player. Remember that? Again, of course you don’t.
You’ll end up needing to resort to manipulative marketing tactics to get people to actually buy something. Communicating your ‘why’ clearly inspires people. You don’t need to push, hype or manipulate.
They’ll likely believe that you’re just in business for the money and so their trust won’t run as deep.
What do I mean by the ‘why’?
The why often starts with our looking at the world and seeing that something is missing. Seeing that something feels ‘off’ to us. It’s like the film the Matrix. People having the vague sense that’s something isn’t right. And yet, the answer isn’t found in the small details but in looking at the overall context – the bigger story. The bigger story is the golden thread that weaves all of those experiences together. And the quest for liberation from the machines is the bigger cause.
When we wake up to an issue that is so much bigger than us – we want to help. And we often find that there’s already a movement that’s going on. It’s not usually something we can create. It’s something bigger than us that we choose to be a part of. And even if we are the initiator of a particular campaign – the movement for justice is as old as the existence of injustice.
Your why is something you’ll likely never achieve in your lifetime because it’s so much bigger than you. You why are all the trees you’ll plant that you will never sit under.
Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of rhetoric in the marketing world about ‘starting a movement’ instead of marketing. But, if you can create it, it’s probably not a movement. It’s a marketing campaign. By definition a movement must be bigger than you. And it can’t be started by you.
These movements aren’t ours. We’re just throwing our shoulder to the wheel. We’re adding our unique voice and perspective. We’re helping getting the truck out of the mud. We’re trying to help things move a little faster and smoother.
Gandhi didn’t start the struggle for India’s independence, he just became one of it’s most vocal and articulate proponents. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t start the civil rights movement. He just played his role in it.
We’re not saying that our boat is the only one addressing this issue. Just the opposite – we’re saying, ‘we are one of many businesses and community members that care about this cause’. We’re one boat of many.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– African Proverb
But we begin to see our role as not just someone selling something but a spokesperson on this issue, an advocate for a cause, a visionary for something better, more deeper and more true. So much of becoming a hub is this – taking a stand for something. Even more deeply, taking a stand as something. Continually crafting our boat so it becomes the most beautiful possible expression of the deepest why we know. I think this is much of what Gandhi meant when he said, ‘become the change you wish to see in the world.’ Do that with your business so that what you’re about is unmistakable.
What is the bigger movement or cause your business is a part of?
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