Simon Sinek Shows How to Create Meaningful Connections with Customers

How do you completely connect with your customer?  How do you make them feel like they’ve always been a part of what you’ve created, or that you’ve innovated this product specifically for them?  Or maybe you want them to feel that their life won’t be complete unless they have have this product.  It’s simply a matter of speaking to a distinct part of the brain and the order in which you tell them what you do, how you do it, and why you do it.

Simon Sinek discussed on Ted Talks how great leaders have inspired action through a device he created called the “Golden Circle”.  This circle will answer all of your marketing queries and teach you how to inspire your customers to need your product, using three questions:

  1. What do you do?
  2. How do you do it?
  3. Why do you do it?

The Golden Circle is set up very simply:  “What” is on the outside, “how” is in the middle, and “why” resides in the very center.  Sinek says that all great leaders in every industry work from the inside-out of the circle when communicating with their target audience.  They work from the “why” to the “what”.  He says the fact is people buy “why you do it”, not “what you do”.

Sinek talks about how most companies when communicating with their customers will first say what they do, then show how they’re different or better, and expect a purchase as the result. He gives a great example of this using one of the most legendary companies in this day and age, Apple.

“If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might say ‘we make great computers, they’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly.  Wanna buy one?’  Meh”.

He then shows how Apple actually communicates:

“Everything we do, we believe in thinking differently.  Our products are beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly.  We just happen to make great computers.  Wanna buy one?”

The difference is so simple; the order of the three basic questions is reversed.  It’s the order of how you deliver the “why, how and what”.  Sinek says the goal is not to do business with people who want what you have, but to do business with people who believe what you believe.

This is a strategy of advertising directly towards different areas of the brain.  We are all biologically designed to process messages in a very basic ways, and it involves two of the three basic areas of the brain:  The neocortex and the limbic system.

The neocortex corresponds directly with the “what level” of the marketing message.  It is responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought and language skills.  It is also responsible for  higher functions such as sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning and conscious thought.

The neocortex is incapable of feeling emotion and establishing a deeper connection with a message.  It simply processes facts and figures and decodes how we should utilize these bits of information.  When a marketing message has the structure of “this is our product, our product does all of these things and you need this product”, it is communicating directly to the neocortex of the brain.

The limbic system of the brain is responsible for all of our feelings, such as trust and loyalty.  It’s also responsible for all human behavior and decision-making skills.  The limbic brain dates back to evolutionary ancient animals, such as the alligator, and played important roles in defending territory, hunting and eating.   In humans, it is responsible for motivation and all emotions.

This part of the brain is directly connected to the “why” and “how” of Sinek’s Golden Circle.  It is the part that makes a deeper connection with the product and produces a deeper connection with the brand.  When a marketing message is structured in a way to say “this is why we do this and this is how we do this; also, this is everything we can do for you”, people will be able to relate to your mission; they’ll be able to relate to why you chose to create this product, and they’ll be more likely to identify themselves with it.

Sinek says that when we communicate from the outside in (from the what to the why), we speak to the neocortex, which has the ability to process massive amounts of information, such as features and benefits or facts and figures, but it doesn’t drive behavior.  When we communicate from the inside out (from the why to the what), we are speaking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior, and then allowing people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do.  This is where “gut decisions” come from.

What Apple has done, and what other great leaders have done, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is connect with people.  Sinek states:

“Leaders are people in power positions.  Those who lead, inspire us, whether they are individuals or they are organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to”.

Sinek uses a great example, pointing out how Dr. King didn’t say “I have a plan”, but instead said “I have a dream”.  He didn’t tell people what needed to be changed in America.  Instead, he went around and told people what he believed.   250,000 people showed up on one day to hear him speak.  Zero showed up for him.  All of them showed up for themselves.  What Dr. King did was show people his dream, his path, and his ambition.  He didn’t give endless amounts statistics or hundreds of examples of racism.  He simply told them why he believed what he believed.  That was enough.

So next time you communicate with your customers, remember that, deep down, the customer cares most about why they need it.  Don’t litter them with features, figures, stats and numbers.  Connect with them.  Tell them what you believe, and then rationalize why they should believe it too.  Just as Sinek says, you want to do business with people who believe what you believe.

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