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The Astounding Hidden Horsepower in Knowing Your “Why”

Why do you do what you do?

What’s your purpose?

What’s the point of your work, your company, your brand?

What do you believe, at your deepest core, about yourself and your brand?

I’ve referenced Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why several times on the blog–and certainly the idea of “knowing your why” is not new in business and entrepreneurial circles–but it’s a concept that is not discussed as prominently within the publishing business. And it’s critical for building a brand and selling books.

I’m a big believer in the fact that people do not buy a product so much as they buy a promise or a relationship.

People do not buy a product so much as they buy a promise or a relationship. Click To Tweet

A good product showcases its promise of transformation.

A good product offers an invitation for relationship with the brand (author).

The sell happens because of the promise and the relationship–both of which tap into a much deeper marketing well than simply, “This is a book.” They tap into this idea of belief, with the sweet spot lying at the intersection of consumer belief/purpose and brand belief/purpose.

So, as a brand–for you, as an author–it’s essential to know your belief. To state your purpose and live out of that. To know your why.

As Sinek says: “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”

He says that the main differentiator between businesses that survive and businesses that don’t is in the framework upon which they build their model and messaging. The less successful folks (the majority!) build upon their what. But the secret for success is in building upon your why.

Your product, your messaging, and your business model has to sing–through words and through intangibles–why you do what you do.

To begin to explore your why as an author, ask these questions:

  • What’s my passion?
  • Why did I write this book?
  • What do I believe this book promises?
  • What’s the pain this book alleviates?
  • How does my life story enliven this message?
  • What do I believe is the truest truth, and how does my book link to that?
  • What are my greatest strengths?
  • What are the heaviest burdens my heart feels?
  • How do I measure the success of my life?

Now what? How does the why tie in?

I encourage you to write down answers to these questions without agenda. Don’t try to write pretty words that can then be used in flowery marketing copy. Just write authentically–and then hold onto your answers.

Let these why answers–these declared beliefs–inform all your marketing and your full brand. Let these answers speak to the promise your book offers, as well as to the unique brand relationship (with you, as the writer and the authority) available.

This means that all pieces of your brand tie into your why. It ensures that your content offerings are consistent and appropriate.

This means that your messaging is more about benefits than about features. It speaks to the heart of promise and relationship, rather than about the graphs and chapters included.

This means that you operate your website, your team, your business, etc. out of the core beliefs that you stand on.

Here’s what we see when authors hit on this hidden horsepower in their why:

  • Stronger and more belief-oriented visuals and copy
  • Product messaging that hits on benefits and promise, rather than features
  • Deeper and wider online engagement with the author
  • A more on-brand and consistent suite of products/writing
  • A team that’s deeply motivated through authentic knowledge of its mission and vision
  • A more fulfilling day-to-day experience in writing and marketing due to attention to their meaning and purpose

I too often see authors dive into the marketing stage of a book without giving thought to their why. It’s a concept that often gets lost somewhere between writing the manuscript and pushing the final product out onto shelves… but don’t let yourself forget. Remember and write it down. The reward is clear–for you and for your readers.

 

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