The power of starting with why in your content strategy.

In his widely acclaimed book  ‘Start With Why’ and subsequent TED talk, Simon Sinek identified that the great and inspiring leaders and organisations in the world all think, act, and communicate, in exactly the same way and it’s opposite to the way everyone else operates. Whether it’s Apple, Martin Luther King, or the Wright Brothers the theme remains the same. 

What they have in common, is a purpose, belief, or cause, that forms the basis for everything they say and do. Their actions aren’t simply a list motions to go through to get people to act, but rather an expression of a deep commitment to contribute something to the world and have an impact. In other words it’s not all about them. 

The invariable slide into manipulation. 

In the absence of a deeper why, Sinek says people and organisations trying to sell something or get their ideas across to cause an action invariably slip into manipulation.

Manipulation ranges from companies dropping prices or running promotions, to very established marketing practises of fear/scarcity and or aspirational messaging talking only about the features or benefits of a product/service. 

It’s not that selling on features and benefits or running promotions/discounts don’t work, they do work. But these strategies are only temporary, in what often results in a race to the bottom, jostling with your competitors to offer the lowest price, the most features, the best service, and eventually what you offer is reduced to a commodity and profits drop. 

How this applies to content strategy. 

By starting everything you say and do from a deeper why and belief, and communicating all content from that place, your customers are able to ‘feel’ when they share the same ideology as you and your company.  A customer’s experience of your content will resonate on a deeper emotional level, when it’s grounded in something inspiring, a vision for the future.

For example, Apple’s vision is ‘To challenge the status quo’ Mr King’s was his dream for civil rights, and the Wright Brothers had a vision of flight changing the course of the world. People are able to see themselves inside these visions and get involved, whereas a vision of motivation purely for profit or self gain just isn’t inspiring. Neither is just talking endlessly about the wonderful benefits of a product or service without a bigger context as to ‘Why’, why should people care?

A goal for the long game. 

The goal is not to do business with everyone who wants what you have, but rather do business with people who believe what you believe. These customers will be more congruent to how you operate your business and loyal over the long term. 

Some questions to help bring the ‘Why’ to your content strategy. Asking these questions will give you a starting point and from there you can start to get more strategic in meeting the needs of your customers and your business. 

  1. How can our communications and content fulfil our purpose of why this organisation exists?
  2. What would I give to people if I had an unlimited supply and never got anything back?
  3. What do I have to give and what impact do I want to make?