Chances are you’ve heard of Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk Start With Why. In it he talks about the Golden Circle and presenting yourself with Why, How, and What.
Just in case you haven’t (or you forgot), here’s the video:
In this video, Simon talks about how no one will really care about what it is you have to say unless you lead with your “why”. He makes a good enough point of this in his Ted Talk that I won’t rehash it here, but I will say he was definitely right.
Applying the Golden Circle to Marketing
With several million views, I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only online marketer who has heard this advice and I’ve seen many people doing their best to apply the advice, even in their homepages.
However, after auditing more than 1,000 websites, I discovered something interesting. Most sites I visited did a great job of explaining their “why.” Unfortunately, on most sites, that pendulum might have swung too far. While your why is your most important message, the how and the what are still important.
And here’s where we get to the problem.
Most of the websites that I audited only told me their “why”.
They have banners saying “We believe in being different” or “Reliability is what matters most” but then they don’t expound on any of that. Or they’ll have the traditional problem and tell you only their “how”, and say “We do things differently”, but then they will completely leave out the “what” that they do differently! I was looking at some of these sites wondering…what on earth do these people do?
This is not how you want prospective customers to feel.
You want them to know what you do, how you do it, and why you do it before they’ve left your homepage…heck, before they’ve even had to do any scrolling.
Start with Why, But Don’t Stop There
So, what should you do? Well, go ahead and start with your “why”, but don’t stop there! Find ways to lace in your “how” and your “what” as well.
Say you started your company to help people find the best diabetic treatment they could get. If you’re passionate about what you do and do this because you believe everyone deserves the best care they can get, great! Put that in your why. But that’s not enough to get people to use your business.
Do you see why this headline wouldn’t work?
“We believe that everyone deserves the best care.”
People who saw this might think you’re an insurance company. But, they may think that you’re a medical office. Heck, depending on your header image, they might think your company is a veterinary clinic.
So, you need to change things up. If you have just your “why”, people won’t know enough. You could put your information about your “how” and your “what” elsewhere, but it’s always best to have as much relevant information crammed into your headlines as you can.
Consider trying something like this: “We believe that all diabetics deserve the best possible care.”
Now, right away, people know that you’re a company that works with diabetics. They still know your “why”, because, as Sinek says in his Ted Talk “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” But far too many companies I’ve seen stop there if they even get to it.
Putting it All Together
To create a compelling website, you need to do what Sinek actually recommends. Start with “why”, then move on to your “how” and “what”. So, you may have a headline reading “We believe that all diabetics deserve the best possible care” and then a sub-headline that says “That’s why we help diabetics find the best deals they can get from their insurance companies.”
Now people know that you’re a company that works with diabetics and their insurance. Perhaps you’re a pharmacy that will provide the best value products. If so, consider having a call to action on your site that gives explicitly what you offer. For this page for diabetics, the call to action could say “Show me my best deals.”
Can you see how much better this works?
What the golden circle really comes down to is making sure that your prospective customers understand your offer. They’ll never do that if they can’t understand what you’re telling them.
Of course, it can be hard to explain exactly “what” you do or “how” you do it in a concise way. Many of the sites I visited had a great deal of difficulty pinning down exactly what it was they did because they used so much jargon they were almost impossible to understand.
Sure, that might work as a filter to make it so they aren’t working with people who don’t know their product well, but it is always better to be easily understood faster.
To solve this problem, lead with “why”. Then, let that “why” lead into your “how”, and then finish off with your “what. This will help your audience understand what you have to offer, and if you do it right, it might even get them to care about it.
Your website is your audience’s first impression of your company, so you want to make it a good one. Make sure that you answer all the questions your prospective customers might have in an order that builds their interest.
That order is “why”, “how”, and then “what”.
If you lead with “what” you do, you’ll lose their interest, but if you never mention “what” you do, then they’ll never know whether they should work with you or not.
Have you ever noticed this trend? What are some of the best sites you’ve seen? And most importantly…why?
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