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Why Simon Sinek’s ‘why’ is crucial for your business

Why Simon Sinek’s WHY is crucial for your business

Written by Michael Gregory,
Director at Freshfield

Developing a competitive edge is a critical factor in your business’ success and long-term survival. You need to stand out, not follow the crowd and finding how to do this can often be soul-searching, but it needn’t be.

The great thing about working in partnership with clients is that you both learn a lot from each other. I was introduced to Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle and the concept of starting with the ‘why’ thanks to Sid Ludlow and Ian Hemingway of Ludlow Wealth Management.

The ‘why’

Together we were working on how the firm could create a credo and at the same time distance itself from competitors. After a lot of discussion, racking of brains and testing a number of concepts, we agreed that the concept of Ludlow’s ‘why’ was its belief that life is for living.

Fundamentally the consultants at the business take pride in helping their clients make the right choices, enabling them to achieve financial peace of mind. You can read more about Ludlow’s ‘Why’ here.

Not many, or any, other wealth management businesses take this approach. I would guarantee that if you met five different wealth managers, each of them would say the same thing. They would focus on telling you what they would do with your wealth and how it would be managed.

Put a Ludlow consultant in the room and they would tell a potential client they’re there to help them because they believe life is for living. It certainly would spark interest and would prompt the question… tell me more?  The main objective is to disrupt your target audiences’ thinking, create a better connection, and establish a talking point.

Standing out

For most clients that need our help in making them stand out from the crowd, our first port of call is to start with the ‘why’. It might not work for all but it’s a vital exercise to go through. Another example is the Dalmeny Resort Hotel’s ‘why’. It’s a great hotel, brilliant facilities and in a fantastic location opposite a beautiful beach. The problem is there were hotels to the left and right of it saying more or less the same thing.

So we took the owners through a similar process, learning about the history and heritage of the family business (over 70 years old and in third generation of ownership) and what made them tick, or more importantly why did it have so many repeat visitors and glowing feedback.  The same thing kept coming to the fore – everyone who had stayed at the hotel had an enjoyable stay, but more importantly they had fond memories, which they cherished. This is now a key part of our campaign. The hotel is in the business of creating great experiences and lasting happy memories. This ‘why’ is central to everything it does. It underpins the business and is helping to boost visitor bookings.

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle has three layers

Why – This is the core belief of the business. It’s why the business exists.

How – This is how the business fulfils that core belief.

What – This is what the company does to fulfil that core belief.

Sinek cites why Apple is so successful is that rather than start with how and what it does, it started with ‘why’ the business is in existence.  If you look around you, you’ll probably find that most businesses will ‘reverse’ market. Unlike Apple, they start with what they do, and how they do it.

This is very much a traditional sales-based approach and, unfortunately, if everyone markets themselves in this way, then the only way to truly differentiate yourself is through price and service. If the service is pretty poor, you’ll compete on price and have the prospect of starting a price war with competitors and cannibalising your profits.

Apple’s why is really about challenging the status quo, making life changing pieces of technology, always striving for better, which it does. It is one of the most successful brands in the world as a result.

Its competitors market themselves in the traditional way…We make great computers. They’re user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. If I was after a new computer, I know where I would go to buy one.

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