Joseph Conlon
Joseph Conlon 22 December 2015

Selling Online? People Don't Care What You Do, They Care Why You Do It.

The fact of the matter is, people don’t buy into what you do or how you do it. They buy into why you do it.

Look at these two statements about the same fictitious company:

  1. We believe in creating exceptional yet sustainable automotive experiences. We do this by developing green technologies that can power exceptionally well built vehicles. We just happen to build the worlds best electric cars  - want to buy one?
  2. We sell electric cars. We do this by developing green technologies that can power exceptionally well built vehicles. We do this to increase our market share and make a profit - want to buy one?

Which of the above would you choose?

The difference in these statements is that statement A starts with the why instead of the what. Look at the two simple diagrams below in relation to the statements above.



selling online


selling online

What these diagrams and statements show is that if a company’s ’how’ and ’what’ are driven by their ’why’ (instead of the reverse) their company is more likely to capture the imagination of all who come into contact with it.

This happens because this kind of messaging engages you at an emotional level. If positive feelings are evoked when you hear about a company - which is often the natural response to a purpose or vision – we are naturally able to make a deep connection to the subject matter at hand. Funnily enough, Diagram A works in the same way as how our brain works in that the limbic system (the core of our brain that controls emotion) influences us from the inside out. This, the oldest and more reptilian side of our brain, allows emotion to override areas controlled by the more exterior parts of our brain - such as logic and reason (usually reserved for identifying what we need and therefore being more logical).

The likelihood is that you know very well what you sell and how you do it but most companies don’t know ’why’ they do it. If you are still reading this then you are also most likely to be unsure of why your company exists and what is the core belief or driving purpose of its leaders.

Whether you are a business owner, manager or employee – it is important that you have purpose in your life and the company should be a combined group of people driving collectively driving toward the same purpose. If there is no perceivable purpose (and by that we don’t mean ‘selling online communications systems’ or ‘to give health care’, but more in line with something like ‘to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible’) then in reality – who cares?

Put simply - what gets you out of bed in the morning? Money only takes you so far, so what is it? If you aren’t sure what your company’s ‘why’ is, ask yourself these questions:

  • What was your childhood ambition?
  • What really excites you?
  • How does your company make a difference in the world?
  • What made you start your business or join this business?
  • What emotions would you feel if the company was taken away? Who and what would it affect (money yes – but what else)?
  • Could someone do what you do? Could someone copy your company like for like? If not, why?
  • If you stopped doing something in your business, would anybody really care?
  • If you didn’t have or work in an existing business – how could you best build a new one?

Answering the questions above as truthfully as possible should help guide you towards the approach we have discussed in this post. However, if you are interested in learning more about this, watch the amazing Ted talk by the founder of this philosophy - Simon Sinek - by clicking here.

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