“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
This quote is the foundation of Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. It’s also the foundation of the work my team and I do.
And it’s also what inspired the video below, where Felipé, a toy designer from Mattel, tells the world why he loves what he does.
We were approached by Mattel’s subsidiary, Mega, to create a video series that would make people fall in love with the philosophy of the company. It wasn’t about making a typical commercial where the audience feels “sold to.” It was about creating a relationship with parents across the world, where they would feel a kinship with the people who make their kids’ toys.
“The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
That’s how you build loyalty. That’s how you create a community of repeat customers who evangelize your brand. That’s how you make people feel like they’re a part of something special—something bigger than themselves.
In this film, Felipé talks about his passion for toy design, but more importantly WHY he loves it. One of his favorite things about being a toy designer is the fact that he can watch his own kids play with the toys he dreamt up on his sketchpad. They have a passion for blocks as a family and it’s something they often share memorable moments around.
Notice, we didn’t try to sell a Mattel product. We simply connected you to the “why” of one of their employees.
Mattel is one of the more progressive companies in this regard.
Most corporations are stuck in a more old school way of communicating. Back in the day, it was, “build it and they will come.” When that stopped working, it became, “build it, talk about what we built, and they will come.”
But in an age where people are bombarded with a whopping 5000 ads per day, talking about what you build/make/do simply doesn’t convert. At least not nearly enough.
Simon Sinek explains in his TED talk that our neocortex, the part of our brain that’s responsible for all of our rational thought and language, corresponds to the “what” level of what a company does. Whereas our limbic brain, the part that’s responsible for our emotions like trust and loyalty, is what’s responsible for our decision-making.
“When we lead with ‘what,’ people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behavior.”
That’s where the “why” part comes in. When we start our conversations, blog posts, videos, or web communications with “why,” we’re appealing to the decision-making part of the brain. It’s the part of us that says, “I have a good feeling about this,” or “my gut says to go ahead.”
When the gut says go, we go. Behavior is driven by how people feel.
Does this only apply to marketing?
What we’re talking about here is communication strategy, and while that’s certainly applicable in marketing contexts, it’s relevant just about everywhere: in a cold email to an influencer, on an “about us” page, in a client pitch meeting, even when onboarding a new teammate.
Many of us entrepreneurs know what it’s like to work with the wrong client. Trust is shaky, misalignments abound, and as a result, creative control is stripped.
Such situations are often a result of not aligning on values with our clients.
“The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
The first step is to know what you believe yourself, and having the courage to share it.