Assessment of social media,
search engine optimization, content 
and other inbound marketing trends.

Simon Sinek's idea of Why-How-What

Simon Sinek's idea of Why -> How -> What

Couple of weeks ago, I was catching up on the podcasts. If you saw my post about sources of information (audio edition), Marketing Over Coffee podcast is one of them. How glad was I that I haven’t missed a special interview episode with Simon Sinek (author of “Start with Why”)! Simon says that every business should start their marketing message with “Why” — why are they doing what they do and thus connecting with prospects on that level. Then message continues with “How” — how they are doing it, and finally, finish with “What” — what exactly do they sell.

The majority of the time, we see the opposite sequence, where marketers tell us what new product they got, how they came to creating or introducing it, and almost never even finish with why it had been invented in the first place. Simon compares Apple and Dell, where one company is focused on “Revolutionizing the World” (‘why’), while other on “Powerful New Computers” (‘what’). I highly recommend listening to the podcast and applying findings to your business.

“Why” & Marketing

My B.S. is in Management, with concentration in Marketing. Marketing also happens to be one of the easiest business concentrations — but is it, after all? The real marketing is a little different from what we all think marketing is. It includes:

  • Exchange of goods (services, products, ideas) between 2 parties (usually buyers + sellers), in a pressure-free environment
  • Satisfying customer needs in a profitable way
  • Adding value and relationship marketing, where goal is to create a long-term relationship with the buyer, leading to a customer loyalty
  • Customer loyalty: where customers will spend more for your product when there are better & cheaper products out there

Having said that, we really need to think “Why” we are introducing a product. And thinking should involve research, customer segmentation, talking to the customers — that way you’ll identify a customer need which will be satisfied by your product, for example:

  • “More powerful computer” (‘what’) satisfies a need for gaming, advanced graphics editing, data processing and can be positioned as “Pushing the limits” — “Why” aspect of the message;
  • “New design of the pen” can be positioned as expressing your uniqueness;
  • “Eco-friendly product” is obviously positioned as care for the environment.

In the podcast I mentioned, Simon Sinek brings up a very good point–be authentic. You have to really believe in “pushing the limits,” “expressing uniqueness,” or “care for the environment.” It cannot be your sales tactics and please don’t try it, cause people will smell your B.S. (mine is in Marketing, remember?)

“Why” in the E-Commerce World

With the popularity of search engine optimization, where we focus on keywords so much, is there room for telling customers advantages of doing business with you? Certainly, but test it. You can rethink your business and roll out an A/B test on a product category where you can really apply it. I currently run a similar test myself, but results are too early to tell (ask for an update if I don’t post!). You can use free Web Page Optimizer by Google or any other competing software like Test & Target by Omniture (that’s what I use–paid).

A/B test Setup

  1. Use your current text as control, and add 2 more version — one focusing on the product aspect, and the other on the business philosophy ‘why’ aspect.
  2. Make sure that you can track each step of the success metrics: product views, add to cart, checkouts, and purchases. Track average order value (AOV), revenue per visit (RPV) and total sales for each version of the copy.
  3. Make sure that text is getting read–as online shoppers often ignore paragraphs of text. Use short copy, and reinforce messaging with the images highlighting your main points.

A/B test in Test & Target by Omniture

Good luck with your testing and ecommerce business!

About Slavik Volinsky
Slavik blogs about online marketing, user experience, search engine optimization, and mobile. Co-founder of Volinsky Consulting — web design & user experience company in Albany, NY. He's on Google+ and on twitter:

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