Every business knows what they do. To stand out, you need to know why you do it.
Think about the last advert from a global brand that you watched on TV. What did it focus on? It’s highly unlikely that an advert from an industry leader will zoom in on the product or service they provide. Instead, the premise of the advert is more likely to be a feeling customers will have from interacting with that company.
Even in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, emotive messaging is at the heart of global brand advertising: Coca Cola suggests community through their slogan ‘open like never before’; McDonalds offers comfort with ‘welcome back’; and Nike empowers their customers through the statement ‘you can’t stop us’. Powerful messages like these suggest there’s more to the brand than the products they provide. They offer their customers the chance to feel a certain way, and it is the prospect of this feeling, that encourages the consumer to buy.
The feeling a company offers is often also the reason why a company does what it does, and the reason it’s become so successful.
Marketing that hones in on an emotion rather than a specific service is the key to long term success.
Why is it important for consumers to be emotionally invested in your brand?
If a customer’s only interest is the service you provide, when they find a provider that’s cheaper, easier to use, or simply looks more impressive, they’ll just move on. If your customer base has more ‘one hit wonders’ than die hard fans, you’ll end up in a bleak cycle of constantly trying to attract new business, while never managing to retain current custom.
When customers are emotionally invested in your brand, they’re not just interested in one specific service. Instead, they’re interested in your company as a whole. An emotional investment means customers have formed a loyalty to your brand, and in turn, this means they are more likely to return and recommend other consumers to use your services too.
How do you encourage customers to become emotionally invested in your brand?
As humans, we often refer to a ‘gut instinct’ that tells us whether or not to do something. This ‘gut instinct’ has the ability to affect our rational decision making abilities, without us ever really knowing why. In other words, it encourages us to make decisions based on emotion, not fact.
Your marketing strategy should aim to instill this type of gut feeling or emotional investment in your customers. To do this, your marketing needs to show your customers a lot more than an in-depth view of the services you offer. You need to show why you offer them.
Your reason why may sound like an abstract concept, but it really doesn’t have to be.
The Golden Circle
Simon Sinek uses a theory called the Golden Circle to differentiate between good and average marketing strategies.The Golden Circle is a great way to break down the difference between the services you provide, and why you provide them.
Imagine a circle with three layers. The outer layer of the circle is What services you provide, the middle layer of the circle is How you provide these services (your USP), and the inner core of the circle is Why you provide these services.
Most companies choose to market themselves from the outside of the circle in, but very few ever reach the inner core. Effectively, these companies provide the What and How, but ignore the Why. For example, if you own a hotel, What you offer might be holidays. How you offer them might be through providing clean and homely bedrooms with excellent facilities.
By missing the Why, your prospective guests have the facts they need to make a booking, but no emotional pull telling them that they should book.
Sinek suggests that major global brands reverse the Golden Circle, and prioritise the Why, before describing the How and What.
As the owner of a global hotel chain your Why might be that you want to provide a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and give workaholics the chance to escape to the country. No matter what type of room you advertise, and whether you want to promote your spa or event facilities, your Why will remain the same: you offer an escape. How you do this is through a variety of clean and homely bedrooms and excellent facilities. What you offer is a night away from home.
By beginning with the Why, you’re immediately encouraging an emotional response from your customers.Your Why should draw attention to the circumstances that led you to begin your company in the first place, and show customers that your brand is genuine. A genuine reason Why will have much more impact on your customers than repeatedly telling them to buy the services you offer – and it is the only section of Sinek’s circle that demonstrates your authenticity as a brand.
How do I convert this theory into practice?
The most obvious way to ensure your customers understand why you offer a service, is simply to make sure it’s clear in your mind. Take time to expand on your USP and work out why you chose your company values, what type of business you wanted to create and why you established your company. It may be difficult to pinpoint initially, but by stripping back the layers that have built your business to where it is now, and recognising what motivated you to get your company off the ground initially, you’ll be able to convey a genuine and authentic reason for customers to connect with you.
Once you have your reason why clear in your mind, make sure it’s a theme that runs throughout your marketing strategy. Whether your customers browse your website, follow you on socials or interact with you face to face, is your reason why prominent? Let them know why you want to provide a service, not just how you’ll do it.
Encourage your customers to focus on the values of the brand behind the service, rather than the service itself, and you’re more likely to attract the type of customers who will remain loyal to your business in the long term.
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