All great brands have one thing in common: they really matter to their customers. If the brand ceased to exist, there would be a void that no other brand could easily and quickly fill. These brands are able to occupy space in a customer’s mind – and occupy share in the market – because from the very start, they were relentless at answering one critical, central question: WHY do they matter?
Most entrepreneurs, CEOs and marketers think they know why their brand matters. They’re always ready with a sincere 2-minute elevator pitch, they’re always prepped for a company-wide pep rally, they believe in their brand. This is all very important. But, understanding WHY a brand matters is a not just a question about the brand, but about the customer’s relationship with the brand.
Your brand matters to the extent that your customers feel emotionally invested in what you do. If your brand were to vanish, their world would be a darker place. Looking at it from the perspective of an emotionally invested customer can help you uncover a deeper, more resonant reason for being.
Customers Can Help Crack the Code
Is your brand about the product, or is it about the experience the product offers? So often, we marketers talk to ourselves. We wax on about what makes our brand so great, but the golden nugget – the WHY – is how it improves the life of the customer. For example, one client told me they strived to be the most successful clinically-proven anti-aging skincare line in the industry. But, after some digging, we arrived at a more visceral WHY: to restore skin and self-esteem so women everywhere can face the day with confidence. This transformed their marketing, their sales pitch, and most importantly, their dialogue with their customers. When we tap into the emotional connection the customer has with the brand, we also tap into new opportunities to engage her in more authentic conversation. With this deeper insight, the mindful marketer understands the brand’s reason for being goes deeper than its myriad selling points. It becomes about changing lives.
Go Deep, Get Messy
Getting to WHY may be messy. It requires a deeper level of inquiry than getting to WHAT. This is a creative, often maddening process that may feel like a Sisyphean task, but there are clues, if you know where to look. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur starting a new business or a marketing executive for an established company, these questions are universal and worthy of inquiry at any stage of business development. So, grab a large white board or a package of sticky notes, and begin writing down all the reasons why your brand, product or service makes the world a better place. Let’s start with these:
- What makes your brand, product or service completely different?
- Why is it necessary? What white space does it fill in the market?
- If it didn’t exist, would there be a void?
- What do others say about your brand, product or service?
- What experiences led you to create it?
Now that we’re on a roll, let’s really dive in.
- Who do you most want to work with? Why do they need you? And why do you want to help them so badly?
- What do you believe in? What pisses you off?
- What do you want to see more of in business and life?
- What do you know for sure?
- What is your overriding mission on this planet? What do you want to be remembered for? What’s your legacy?
- If you could broadcast your message to your target audience from a mountaintop, what would you say?
- What ideas or concepts do you have that are so wildly different, you’re a little sheepish to share them out loud?
Write it all down. It’s okay if it’s weird. It’s okay if people don’t understand it immediately. It’s okay if you don’t understand it immediately. You’re creating something new, and in the beginning, the vision is foggy. It takes time for ideas to take shape. Your only job is to stay committed to the process and go in any direction your divergent thoughts lead you.
When you arrive at your critical, central truth – your WHY – you will know. It’s the aha! moment when you realize it is the only story you can tell, and only you can tell it. It is clear, simple and whole. It lights the path for the most authentic communication with your audience. Marketing effortlessly becomes a two-way conversation where ideas, wisdom and experience is shared, and an emotional connection is formed. It inspires meaningful content and innovative design, which are the next two practices I’ll cover in this Mindful Marketing series. So, stay tuned!
For Your Inspiration
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
TED talks by Simon Sinek
Drive by Daniel H. Pink