It’s All About the “Why”

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I found a Ted Talk lecture a while ago by Simon Sinek about marketing and what makes some advertising campaigns successful, and why others fail.  Every message (or any form of communication for that matter) boils down to 3 parts: what, how, and why.  What most people fail to understand is that the “why” is most important when you’re communicating with people because motivation drives action.

What — The thing people will be doing

In an advertisement, this would be the cruise ticket, the new computer, or that fancy new car.  This is what most small business-owners and engineers get really worked up about.  It’s natural to get wrapped up in the technicalities and practical steps of what you’re doing, but it means nothing if it’s not what your customers want.  Even worse: if you blast facts without the proper motivation, you could actually damage your company’s brand.

How — The means of completing the action

In commercials or on websites, this is usually the “call to action”, or directions on how to purchase.  Again, this is great for customers who are interested in your product already, but if I’ve never heard of your fancy new service I don’t care how to buy it!

Why — The driving force to start 

The why is the reason for doing something.  Everyone does things for some reason or another (whether they know that reason or not).  If you can line up with your target audience, and get them hooked on why your product is so cool, why your product is different, and why this will match their goals, you’ve made a sale.


This has other implications for leaders as well.  When you assign tasks in a project, start with the big picture and show how what you’re doing is relevant.  Getting people motivated is half the battle–once that’s established, the how and the what will fall into place naturally.


Here’s the video:

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