People Buy The Why, Not What

by · May 8, 20129 comments

We have been working on a couple of interesting start-up ideas at Urbane Media that have mushroomed into companies. The idea stage is much safer, in that we can vacillate for hours on end about this and that. It makes us feel good. It is exciting to talk about our ideas. Actually launching your idea is a bit scarier because the stakes are higher. It is no longer just verbal masturbation, you have likely plunked down some dough to get started, either yours or someone else’s.

Must Do

One of our Must Do Exercises with our companies that we own and operate is to create a new value curve. We spend a lot of time on the following four questions:

A New Value Curve

  1. Reduce - Which factors should be reduced well below the industry standard
  2. Create - Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered
  3. Raise - Which factors should be raised well above the industry standard
  4. Eliminate - Which of the factors that the industry take for granted should be eliminated

Create Your Niche

Question mark

Question mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting really clear with the above four questions has helped us carve out niche businesses. Many times the things that separate one company or business from another are not large single items, but a series of small, but radically different, things. A great place to start is your policy and procedure manual. It is likely slam full of stuff that no longer applies or never worked well from the get-go.

Have You Answered Why?

This is a tricky one, we tend to race to What we do. That is much easier to identify. We gravitate to How we do it. The question of Why we do it only gets answered by the remarkable brands. If we reverse the order, and start with why we are doing this and keep that at the core center of our culture, we are heads above the rest.

Why People Buy

People buy from companies because of why they do, not what they do. That is one of the explanations as to why great brands exponentially lead the pack. Many times their competitors actually have a better product. Many times the competition is better capitalized. Yet the company who best identifies what motivates them, and why they are doing what they are doing run circles around the pack.

We suggest that you take some time to identify the Why, way before you get to the What and the How. Your result will be diametrically different.

For more inspiration on the same topic, check out Simon Sinek’s awesome TED Talk:


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About Eric Brown

Eric Brown

Eric Brown's background is rooted in the rental and real estate industries. He founded metro Detroit’s Urbane Apartments in 2003, after serving as senior vice president for a major Midwest apartment developer. He established a proven track record of effectively repositioning existing rental properties in a way that added value for investors while enhancing the resident experience. He also established The Urbane Way, a social media marketing and PR laboratory, where innovative marketing ideas are tested.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Anonymous

    I’m surprised Simon Sinek’s name wasn’t credited in this post. You are no doubt familiar with either his TED talk or his book, “Start With Why”?

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for the point. We’ve added the video for additional inspiration!

      • Bert S

        When i started to read this article, i immediately thought. I saw a TED movie once about this :-)

  • Pingback: People Buy The Why, Not What | Social Media Explorer | Attraction Marketing

  • http://www.kpib.co.uk/social-media-marketing-agency-strategy/ Social Media Marketing Agency

    That’s right. In presenting a product/service you sell the benefits (the why) first and supplement these with the features (the what). So to know what your audience deems as beneficial you have to observe and do ample research about your market.

  • http://cashinghub.com/ Jeet

    True what you have mentioned here, If you can explain why people need your product then only it will be sold. It hard to sell a product which fails to prove any benefit to user. You need to create something different and helpful product. 

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  • http://www.voucherry.com/ Voucherry

    I think people
    are driven by the idea of ​​doing good. This is a very important factor in
    today’s economy. At the same time, companies have become aware of the fact that
    spending in marketing thru traditional channels no longer delivers results.
    People are now interested in helping and doing good as well. And for a company
    to succeed, it needs to address its customers’ interests –> so many
    contribute a part of their marketing budget to charity as a way to fulfill
    their customers’ needs. And this is Voucherry. Voucherry, connects cause supporters with excellent
    service merchants to generate more sales and more contributions. And that make
    people buy, knowing that with each of their purchases a non profit is helped.