Written by: Gerard Doyle, Fractal – The Startup Marketing Agency
About Fractal: To help startups realise their potential and create a more efficient world.
Why are you doing this?
You know the type. Confident. Passionate. Super-into what they do. It’s like they are being driven by a greater force, and we just know they are going to succeed. The knock-on effect of this is that we are drawn to these same people and companies because:
“People don’t buy what you do,
they buy why you do it”
This quote by Simon Sinek in his famous Ted talk resonated with so many people that his talk has become one of the most watched of all time and led to his bestselling book ‘Find Your Why’.
The essential take away from Simon is that business owners should not be defining themselves by ‘what’ they do, or even ‘how’ they do it, but ‘why’ they do what they do.
We all like to think of ourselves as entirely rational beings, but that’s not how our brain works. As humans we connect emotionally and then back up our decisions with logical reasoning.
Think about an expensive item of clothing you’ve recently purchase – we often try to rationalise the price by looking at the fabric, the cut and the colour, but the decision was probably not a rational one, it was more emotional.
So what is your cause? Why does your company exist? Because if you’re replying what you do, then you can expect to be judged accordingly.
Your Origin Story
The oldest form of knowledge transfer between humans has been through story. Our brains are wired to listen to and retain stories. It is for this reason that the best way to deliver your ‘why’ is through story, more specifically an origin story.
Dead Parents, Fateful Choices, Birthrights. A character’s origin story is one of, if not the most important aspect of their entire being.
Batman. Iron Man. Captain Marvel.
Your business origin story is the story of how you came to create your business. Your origin is the reason you are doing what you do. It is the higher purpose that drives you. As such, it is also the best way to align potential customers to your business journey.
If you want inspiration for your origin story, then I’d suggest you head straight to the land of super heroes. Every super hero has a powerful origin story that justifies everything the character does. Without seeing his parents murdered in an alley, Batman is just a crazy vigilante in fancy dress who would give up when the situation becomes tough.
Business origin stories can be equally powerful. Twitter is the brainchild of a programmers who worked at the podcasting company Odeo in San Francisco. They were looking for a way to send group broadcast text on their mobile phones and accidentally created Twitter.
So what do you do?
We’ve all asked and been asked this question at a party or BBQ. Unfortunately most of us kill the conversation with a dead-end response like; “I’m in recruitment”.
You’ve just framed yourself in a known (probably boring) way and if the conversation is to continue you’ve put the responsibility back on the questioner.
You could have said that you ‘stop high performing lawyers from becoming grumpy cynics’.
You can see how that second answer, satisfies the question but opens up so may more questions.
You should see the question of ‘what do you do’ as the gateway question that allows you to tell your origin story. If you earn the right to tell your origin story with a great opening pitch, then you earn the chance to align another person to your ‘why’. The more people who understand your ‘why’ the more people will align to your service with their heart rather than rationalising your service with their heads.
After all, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
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