A while back I traveled to conduct a SWOT analysis for a retailer who wanted to undergo a rebranding effort. I’m a marketer, so inherently – to come up with a branding message – I had to know what central message the retailer wanted to convey. I asked what I thought was a simple question:
“Why do customers come to your stores?”
The CEO of a multi-million dollar store group answered this way:
“We have the best-quality meat, the freshest produce, a wide variety of products, a good offering of international products, convenient locations and service offerings, friendly staff, provide a good value to the consumer and are a family-run, employee-owned business.”
Needless to say, centralizing a branding message with that kind of statement is difficult.
Very often the noise of the marketing messages confuses consumers. It takes invested employees to ask difficult questions and challenge the engrained mindset of being all things to all people. Margaret Heffernan explains why this confrontation is productive and necessary. When it comes down to it, an important question needs to be asked of organizations and individuals:
Why do you do what you do?
It’s a simple enough question. Parents of young children often have to answer this question of “Why?”
Why is the sky blue?
Why is that bug flying?
Why do we have to leave early?
Why? Why? Why?
Once we get to school age, those children that follow directions and do what they are told are praised as “good” students.
As we get older, we learn that asking “Why?” isn’t always appreciated. It elicits answers of “Because I told you to”, “That’s just the way it is”, and “Life’s not fair”.
Eventually we stop asking – and if we don’t, our bosses get frustrated because we’re challenging the status quo, or our significant others want to know why everything has be talked through or explained.
But, is this suppression of the question “WHY?” always what is best?
Recently a friend forwarded me a video that her company’s management team showed at a conference full of employees. TEDTalks speaker Simon Sinek breaks down the difficult question of “Why?”
Why Apple has more success than other computer companies.
Why Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired change.
Why the Wright brothers were the first to figure out how to fly.
Sinek’s Golden Circle codifies this “Why?” question and illuminates how these people and organizations inspire action.
The day after I watched the video, I saw a Twitter post from AdAge about Chrysler’s new commercials. Immediately the videos struck me as so very un-marketing-ish. As if following Sinek’s words exactly, the commercials have no features and benefits statements.
The only hint that the commercials are even for vehicles is that there are nice shots of people grabbing their keys and riding in vehicles.
Read the comments below the commercials and you’ll see that some people are asking if the emotional spots will sell vehicles. If Sinek is right – and people care about why Chrysler does what they do – the commercials will sell product.
Sometimes marketing isn’t about selling features and benefits – it’s about creating a feeling.
The spots hit that nail on the head.