JJ Ramberg: Focus on the 'Why' to Hook Customers, Investors
In her book, It's Your Business, author JJ Ramberg, along with Lisa Everson and Frank Silverstein, outlines 183 tips for transforming a small business. In this excerpt, the author details the importance of communicating passion.
When you want people to get excited about your company -- whether it's an investor, a potential partner, a customer or even your employees -- you need to know exactly "what" your company does, but you should really focus your presentation on "why" your company does it.
Why? Because people can become inspired by your passion for the work you do even if they're not particularly inspired by the work itself. Focusing on that passion, the "why," won't stop you from talking about what you do, but it will establish a context of why your work is important to you and therefore why it should be important to them as well.
Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Act, introduced me to this idea early on in the life of Your Business and I have since repeated it to so many others. Simon's theory is that while people may start working with you because of "what" you do, they'll stay loyal to your company because of your vision -- "why" you do it. So don't be tempted to spend your time talking about "what" when you'll have much more impact if you focus on the "why."
How I use this: Simon sat down with me to illustrate what he meant. He asked me about the "why" behind my company, GoodSearch, and I told him, "We are an online shopping mall and Yahoo-powered search engine that donates about a penny per search and a percentage of each purchase to the charity or school of the users' choice." Simon looked at me and I immediately knew I had said the wrong thing.
He then asked me a series of questions including: Do I like working with my brother as a co-founder? What did I do as a hobby when I was in high school? How do I spend my weekends? Admittedly the session felt more like a therapy than a business meeting. But in the end, we had found my "why."
I believe that the opportunity to do good should exist every day and not just when we write a check to our favorite charity. GoodSearch gives people the ability to do good in their everyday lives. It is this "why"--the reason we started GoodSearch--that is helping it to become a transformational new approach to philanthropy. At the end of my conversation with Simon, it was clear that the "why" of my company is much more magnetic than the "what." And once you hook them with the "why," the "what" is easy!