The Simple Question of WHY

Applying the Golden Circle to Content Marketing Strategy

Originally published on the Interprose Voice blog here

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek, author, speaker, and consultant

At a recent Knoxville American Marketing Association meeting I was reminded of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle concept on how great leaders inspire action. In short, his message is this: “Every organization on the planet knows WHAT they do and HOW they do it, but very few organizations know WHY they do what they do. What’s your purpose, your cause, why should anyone care? Always build your story from the inside out, starting with the WHY.”

As B2B marketers with content always on the brain, it’s a reminder that the success of the content we produce hinges on the WHY. It’s the key to effective storytelling, and as a result, it’s what ultimately leads to a successful business transaction. It’s easy to fall into the habit of defining services and products, but not truly getting to the heart of the matter.

As Simon says: the answer to the why is NOT to make money. The why is not to be on the Fortune 500 list.

Here’s the example he gives for traditional marketing versus WHY marketing. I could paraphrase this, but I probably wouldn’t do his words justice:

“If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them may sound like this: We make great computers. They are beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Want to buy one?

Here’s how Apple actually communicates – Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

What a beautiful illustration of marketing that moves, that inspires, that calls us to action. What a wake up call to take a look at our content and messaging to ensure it all traces back to the root of why our company does what it does.

Here are a couple ways you (and I) can check to see if your company’s content marketing is from the “inside out:”

1. Do you have passion and buy-in from the employees, your subject matter experts?

If employees are passionate about the brand and have a clear vision of the WHY, it will exude from them and it will most definitely show up in their writing (or in a podcast or speaking event, for that matter). When calling on an employee to contribute a white paper, blog, article, you name it – is it a bland piece just describing a process or does it work to solve a problem for your customer?

Key takeaway: If you’re unsure whether your staff knows the WHY of your company, do a brief internal survey. The results may come back to tell you it’s time to reinvigorate the company manifesto.

2. How’s your customer engagement?

How are customers responding to your content? It’s in the data. Look into how long a visitor stays on your blog page, and how frequently visitors are returning before they actually make a purchase or contact you. These stats will give you insight into what’s working. If a piece of content doesn’t have the online interaction you’re looking for, perhaps run it through the ‘WHY’ lens to see if it’s hitting the mark.

Key takeaway: As marketers, sometimes we’re just too close to the content to gauge whether it’s communicating from the inside out. If so, hand the website copy or that piece of collateral to a couple of industry colleagues not associated with your company, and ask them what they see. Ask them to be honest, brutally so, if necessary.

Here’s one last quote from Simon to mull over: “Communicating from the outside in doesn’t drive behavior.” Analyze your content marketing outputs and ask yourself, does it answer the one simple question of WHY? If you can’t answer “yes,” maybe it’s time for a reset. And if you need further inspiration, I encourage you to carve a bit of time out of your day to watch Simon’s 2009 Ted Talk – it’s all the inspiration you’ll need.

For more on content marketing, check out my colleague Rachel DeFrank’s blog post on Four Tricks for Your Content Marketing Strategy.

Social Media Tools That Help You Work Smarter, Not Harder

This past week my first post in the Interprose PR Voice blog went live!  I thought I’d share it here as well.  Always  looking for feedback; let me know what you think!

Blog post originally found here.

Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report surveyed more than 2,800 marketers with the goal of understanding how they are using social media to grow and promote their businesses. A surprising 85 percent feel like they don’t know what tools are best.

Continue reading Social Media Tools That Help You Work Smarter, Not Harder

Life Update.

It’s been a couple of months since my last post…I’ve been a bit busy.

IMG_2324eAfter 5+ years as the PR and Marketing Manager with EnerNex, the time had come to move on.  I am now newly employed with the McDonnell Group as the Marketing Account Manager. McDonnell Group, based out of Atlanta, Georgia, is a full service marketing and public relations firm focused on the energy and utility industry.  It’s official, my bio is on the website.

I can’t say enough great things about this agency.  Not only are they hardworking, dedicated marketing and PR professionals…they are a lot of fun.  So, it’s a true pleasure to work with these folks.  I am working remotely for the most part, but will commute to Atlanta from time to time.

Continue reading Life Update.

A Little Schooling on the Subject of Instagram.

Yesterday I attended the webinar: “How to Generate Massive Traffic with INSTAGRAM.” Hosted by  Brooke Ballard of B Squared Media (@B2MediaLLC) and presented by Jenn Herman (@jenn_trends) the 90 minute session focused on the reasons Instagram is so important, how to perfect your profile, and ultimately generate traffic for your business via this wildly used social tool.  I highly recommend you check out her slides; it’s good stuff.

Let me add, I am so impressed with B Squared Media’s post-webinar follow-up.  Attendees were sent a thank you for attending email which also included links to the slides, the webinar recording, and a copy of Jenn’s Instagram Ebook.  B Squared’s tagline is – “it’s a conversation, not a campaign.”  They practice what they preach…and it’s refreshing and inviting.

There were a few points Jenn made that particularly caught my attention…
(please note these ideas and suggestions are Jenn’s and I am just paraphrasing and sharing the knowledge)

1.  Beef up your Instagram profile.  If your profile isn’t on point and doesn’t concisely reflect who you are and what you’re about, viewers won’t engage and won’t even be interested in going to your website.

Continue reading A Little Schooling on the Subject of Instagram.

Utilities + Social Media: Cases Where It’s Working.

For utilities, connecting with consumers via social media channels is ideal for outage communication and customer interaction.  Think about all the rich content that could be pumped to the consumer all in an effort to engage, educate, and promote.

Here are three utilities I see that are doing it right.

Southern California Edison (SCE)

SCE is dominating the utility space in Instagram land.   Not only do they post neat pictures of linemen at work, substations, transmission poles, and scenic sunsets, but they also encourage consumers to submit their own photos to be featured – tag @sce or #socaledison.  

Yes, SCE is on Facebook and Twitter, but what makes SCE’s social presence unique and stand out from the pack is there engagement on Instagram.  Utilities who are not on this particular social channel are missing out on a pictorial representation of what the they do and provide.  In addition, “over 90% of the 150 million people on Instagram are under the age of 35.”  Through their Instagram account, SCE broadens it’s social portfolio and reach beyond that of Twitter and Facebook.  Visual marketing is king.


Continue reading Utilities + Social Media: Cases Where It’s Working.