Successful businesses use their ‘why’, vision, and mission as the cornerstone of their marketing strategy.
There’s a lot of talk about these important company statements. But what’s the key difference between them, actually? And how and when should you apply them?
That’s exactly what I’m going to unpack for you in this article. But first, let’s explore each statement individually.
Start with ‘Why’
Do you know why you’re in business?
Do you know what you believe in and what your business stands for?
And can you articulate that in a clear, concise way so that those who believe what you believe can find you and work with you?
If your answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, then you’re missing out on your most powerful marketing asset. The most successful businesses worldwide make their ‘why’ the cornerstone of their marketing strategy to put themselves above and beyond their competitors, easily and effortlessly.
Simon Sinek’s now world famous TED talk called Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action (published in 2009 and now with 7 million views at the time of writing this article), he explains why ‘starting with why’ is the key thing that all successful businesses do.
Sinek’s research was driven by finding answers to these questions:
- Why are some people and organisations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others?
- Why do some companies command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike?
- Even among the successful companies, why are so few companies able to repeat their success over and over?
So why is knowing your ‘why’ so important?
Those of you with young children know that every child wants to know ‘why’ things are a certain way and why we do certain things. It’s our natural instinct to want to know the motivation and driving force – the reason – behind things. We’ll happily comply with a request if we understand there’s a good reason for it.
As Simon Sinek says:
“Your goal is not to do business with people who want what you have, your job is to do business with those people who believe what you believe.” – Simon Sinek
Sinek explains why this is so important and how this works using his ‘Golden Circle’, which actually correlates to the anatomy of the human brain (see the diagram below).
When you look at a cross-section of the human brain, the outer layer – the neocortex – is the newest evolutionary layer. Our neocortex corresponds with our rational, analytical thought and language. This is the ‘how’ and ‘what’ level of thinking.
The middle two sections of the human brain constitute the ‘limbic brain’, the emotional centre that makes up all of our emotions and feelings like trust and loyalty. It’s also the section of our brain that’s responsible for all of our decisions. It’s responsible for driving our behaviour. The limbic part of our brain has no capacity for language.
As Sinek explains, every organisation knows ‘what’ they do. Some know ‘how’ they do it. And their biggest mistake is that they lead their marketing with their ‘what’ and their ‘how’, talking about features and benefits. But the problem is that, in the majority of cases, nobody cares what you do or how you do it, until they understand ‘why’ you do it.
“Every organisation knows ‘what’ they do. Some know ‘how’ they do it. But very few organisations know ‘why’ they do it. What’s your purpose? Your cause, your belief? Inspired, successful organisations all act and communicate from the inside out. Most other organisations start from the outside and work inwards.” – Simon Sinek
“When you communicate from the outside in, talking about features and benefits of your products or services, you don’t drive behaviour. But when you talk from the inside out, you’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls decisions and behaviour. It’s where gut decisions come from.” – Simon Sinek
It’s well known in marketing and sales theory that people buy with emotion, and then use logic to justify their buying decision. In other words, they make the decision to buy using their limbic brain (the ‘why’ part of the circle), and then use their neocortex to analyse and justify their buying decision (with the ‘what’ and ‘how’ parts of the circle).
Some examples of great ‘why’ statements.
“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo.”
They believe in doing things differently, in innovation, in the crossroads between creativity and technology.
“The future is female.”
We believe that females need to step up to drive the change that we desperately need to see in the world. It’s through a balancing of the masculine and feminine energies in the corporate and business world that we’ll start to see lasting, positive change.
High Stakes Communication Coach, Jane Jordan:
“Powerful communication is the cornerstone of influential leadership.”
Jane knows that it takes more than twenty years to build a great professional reputation, and only seconds to destroy it. And she’s passionate about helping professionals to master their communication so that they can enhance their reputation and become more influential leaders.
What’s your business ‘why’?
What do you believe in as an organisation?
What do you stand for?
Figuring this out might just be the most important thing you can do for your business this year.
Your ‘why’ is what you believe.
Your vision is where you’re going.
Your mission is how you’re going to get there.
Your Vision Statement
While your ‘why’ describes what you stand for and what you believe in as a business, your vision statement defines the aspirational end destination that you want to take your business to. It’s the inspiration, hopes and dreams for your business. It describes what you’re trying to build and the impacts of that. Your vision requires you to dream big.
It answers the big question “Where are we going?”
It’s your north star, your guiding light.
Your Mission Statement
Your mission is ‘how’ you are going to deliver on your vision. It’s your compass that guides your way to your final end destination.
I always describe the difference between your vision and mission using the diagram of Australia shown here. Your vision is the end destination. Whereas your ‘mission’ is your compass, it’s ‘how’ you get there. Your ‘why’ is where you started.
Great examples of Vision and Mission Statements
Here are some great examples to help you to refine or develop your own vision and mission statements.
Vision: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Mission: By bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.
Vision: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
Mission: By creating groundbreaking sport innovations, by making our products more sustainably, by building a creative and diverse global team and by making a positive impact in communities where we live and work.
Vision: To spread ideas worth sharing.
Mission: By creating a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world through sharing ideas. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.
I hope this has helped to clarify the key, critical differences between your ‘why’, vision, and mission statements. If you haven’t taken the time yet to ‘nail’ your why, vision, and mission statements, it’s absolutely worth taking the time to do so. And if you’re having trouble, reach out for a FREE 15-minute business strategy session so I can help you. One of my superpower’s is helping you to articulate your cornerstone marketing messages!
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In service to your success,
Kate De Jong, Ph.D
Business & Marketing Strategy for Small Business Owners