Put Your “Why” FIRST

Yesterday, I blogged about the combination of vision, engineering, and marketing that made Apple and some other companies so successful. And for years, I’ve been a champion of putting reasons in your marketing.

This TED talk by Simon Sinek goes a step farther. Again using Apple as an example, he says it’s not enough merely to include the because; you want to lead with it. If you put your reasons why—your higher purpose—right at the top you immediately attract the people who are falling-all-over-themselves-eager to be part of your dream and your mission. This, he says, is why we don’t buy MP3 players or tablets from companies like Dell, but we salivate at Apple’s every product release—because Apple leads (and has led, since at least the original Macintosh introduction in 1984) with the deeper why.

Another of his examples is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech; King, he notes, did not say, “I have a plan.”

However, King’s speech actually had a bit of a slow build. The first 351 words (of 881, total) are about the plight of black people in this country from the Emancipation Proclamation to the day 100 years later when he gave his speech. Only then, more than a third of the way into his speech, does he move into his vision of the race-neutral future.

Still, I think Sinek is right—but I think it also has to hit on the benefits to the individual, unless you’re speaking only to the driven. I’ve often used this technique in my copywriting without consciously thinking about it. From now on, I will do it consciously.

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