Start with Why
Businesses and companies spend millions in their marketing campaigns so that people will notice their products, recall their brand, and buy from them. With the increasing popularity of the blogs, social networking sites, and other Web platforms, they are starting to allocate millions for their online marketing campaigns.
So what do they do online?
Create flashy websites. Come up with eye-catching advertisements. Generate articles for blogs. Organize contests for Facebook likes and Twitter follows. Foster conversations. Engage their audiences with interesting or humorous content. Or buy advertisement from top websites and blogs.
And what results do they get?
Massive awareness and acceptance of their brand!
Their videos and articles go viral—they get shared thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. They generate sales, attract donations, or gather support for their campaign.
If you’re reading this, you probably want to learn how to use the Web for your ministry. Most likely, you don’t have a lot of budget, but you’re willing to get started. You’re willing to learn what to do and how to do it. You might even be sitting in front of the computer to create a new blog and hit the ground running.
Hold on just a minute!
If you really want to use the Web for ministry, don’t start with “What?” Don’t start with “How?” either. Any successful project begins with a clear sense of purpose.
In other words, you have to start with “Why”.
Why Start with Why
If you start with Why? you affirm your sense of purpose.
Your WHY becomes the basis of all that you do—whether as an individual or as an organization. A person who does not have a sense of purpose will try one thing after another, hoping that it will be the answer to a lingering numbness or lack of direction. Likewise, without a sense of purpose, you will create one blog after another; explore one technology after another; and in the end, you accomplish nothing.
I remember my first attempt at blogging in 2006. Initially, I blogged about my personal experiences. After some time, I got bored and decided to write about movies. And then books. And then personal development. And then personal finance. Eventually, because I didn’t know my Why, I ended shutting down the blog with its 400+ articles over the course of five years.
Zig Ziglar once said: “If you aim at nothing, you hit it every time!”
If you don’t know your Why it’s so much easier to fail!
Your Why is the source of passion and inspiration!
A sense of purpose inspires you to give your best shot in your work or hobby. The work may be tedious and boring. And believe me, it can be difficult and slow going at times. But if you have a clear purpose, you can beat the odds and persevere.
Purpose will also help you in those times that you don’t really feel like working. Why? Because purpose comes from the heart—from the wellspring of motivation and inspiration. Sometimes, your Why is intensely personal. It might be your personal dream or a vision you are passionate about. Sometimes, it may be the dream or vision of another person that you have adopted and made your own. Either way, it inspires you and keeps you going!
Your Why connects you with people.
With a clear purpose you can infuse your blog articles with passion. Each time you update your status on Twitter or Facebook, your passion will shine through! And people will get that. Sometimes, even if you do not connect with them intellectually, you can touch their hearts.
That’s not an easy job! Sometimes, people may not understand what you do; but they will connect with you if they understand your sense of purpose. If you tell people that you write novels and short stories, they will give you a sympathetic nod. But if you tell people that you write because you want to help people deal with the pain of addiction and broken relationships, then they can connect with you. You appealed to their hearts, instead of their minds. When you hit the heart, you get connected in a deeper way.
The Golden Circle
Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, came up with the Golden Circle to illustrate the importance of Why and how it relates to two other spheres – the How (Strategy) and the What (Product, Service or Message).
He said “people buy why you do it, not what you do.”
Too often, though, organizations and companies start with What they do and How they do things, instead of Why. Whenever a company tells you that it provides excellent cellular phone services, they start with what and how. It doesn’t inspire. It doesn’t connect with people. But if an organization tells you that they are in the business of connecting people, then they are operating from a clear sense of purpose.
If you want to truly engage your audience, stand up for something that they can identify with. Don’t tell them what you do. Show them your Why—the purpose behind what you do.
The Web is a medium for communication. It resides in the WHAT and HOW of the Golden Circle. You have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Good. You have a blog and a website. Even better.
But are you telling and showing people WHY you do these things?
How to Discover your Why.
Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “The masses of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
If you don’t know why you exist, you certainly live a life of desperation. But if you discover your Why, it’s like finding the Pearl of Great Price in Matthew 13. You sell off everything you have just to buy it! When you discover your Why, your whole approach, even your whole life changes!
What are your dreams?
Dreams embody your deepest aspirations. They spring forth from your identity, your background and your experiences. No matter how difficult, when we pursue our dreams, we affirm our sense of purpose. And when we do that, fulfillment and happiness comes!
What cause have you committed to?
Sometimes, your Why doesn’t need to be your own. It could be the dream or vision of another person who inspired you. When you feel totally committed to that dream, you may have found your sense of purpose. Ideally, you join an organization because of what they embody—their purpose aligns with yours.
What’s the vision and mission of your organization?
Most organizations have a written Vision and Mission crafted by the founders or leaders of the organization. These are powerful statements that could guide all your activities, including your Web strategy.
What to do with your Why.
Write down your Why in simple terms.
You don’t need complicated and pompous words. What matters is that you understand Why you do the things you do online and offline. By writing it down, you make it easier to remember. You also help clarify your goals.
Review it often.
When you start implementing a Web Strategy, you will encounter new technologies, new platforms, new ways of doing things. But some of these will lead you away from your sense of purpose. When that happens, you can always go back to your written vision statement, and you can easily get back on track.
The Web is essentially a communications channel. Your Why helps inform and guide everything that you do in this channel. However, it is equally important to know who you are communicating to. After all, communication is a two-way street.
If you discover your Why, you’re ready for the next step – Understanding Your Audience. And that’s what we will cover in the next part of this series.