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Start with Why

Allyson England Blog Start with Why Nova Scotia Made Gift Boxes

I’m currently reading (OK fine I’ll be honest - I’m currently listening to) Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why.” It’s all about how great leaders inspire, and what differentiates companies that lead with “why” versus “what.”

I’m still in the early part of the book, but something that struck me was the way in which great companies inspire long term loyalty instead of short term transactions.

He uses the concept of the “golden circle” that is, the tendency for companies to base their marketing messages around three levels of information – WHAT, HOW and WHY. WHAT is information on the outer circle, and WHY is information on the inner circle (ie. at the core).

Most companies tend to start with WHAT and end with WHY. He argues you should start with WHY.

He uses Apple as an example of a company that very effectively communicates their why, and as a result, has enjoyed prolonged success as a market leader in innovation, loyalty and sales.

If, Apple was like most companies, their marketing message would start with the WHAT and it would sound like this:

“We make great computers. They are beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Wanna buy one?”

Instead, he says that Apple consistently starts with WHY, and their messaging sounds more like this: 

“Everything we do; we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?”

This is so interesting, because people don’t follow or support companies necessarily based on what they do; but why they do it, or how the person/company makes them feel.

I got to thinking; how can I apply this to my own business? 

Currently my tagline on Instagram says: “Carefully curated gift boxes filled with Nova Scotia treasures.”

That sure sounds like a WHAT description to me. 

Perhaps I should start with why, and it should sound something more like:

“Everything we do; we believe in sharing love from Nova Scotia. We believe in helping people feel like home, no matter where they are. The way we share love from Nova Scotia is by creating carefully curated gift boxes filled with treasures from home. Wanna buy one? 

What do you think? Is this an improvement? What would you say about yourself or your business if you started with WHY instead of WHAT?


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