Your why and leadership

Can you capture your reason for existence in 5 words?

‘Why do you do what you do’ as a brand? The fundamental question in the heart of Simon Sinek his book ’Start with Why’ and his famous TED talk. When you ask a random marketer for the ‘why’ of their brand, mostly they give an extensive answer full of marketing bullsh*t bingo wrapped in beautiful complicated words. A shallow shell that doesn’t really tells the origin and ‘the why’ of the brand and what problem it solves for their consumers.


Use 5 words

Made simple, if your consumer is standing in the supermarket to buy a product, they look a the shelves and have an overkill of choice. Why should they pick your product? Explain this in a maximum of 5 simple words that even a child can understand. If you cannot explain your ‘why’ to a kid, you maybe don’t understand it yourself.


Johan Cruijff
If I wanted you to understand, I would have explained it a little bit better
Johan Cruijff

Ask 5 times 'why'

To get to the real core of why you do what you do, ask five times why the brand produces the products they sell. Once you get the first answer, ask it again, and again, and again, and again. Not easy and pretty annoying to answer. You will notice that by the fifth time, you get a very operational, clear, free of jargon answer that captures the core. This is the fundament on which you build your story and content to showcase your passion and enthusiasm for your brand and its products.

This technique is originally developed by Toyota to get to the core of a problem. Why not apply this to get to the core of why you do what you do? Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Whys



‘You do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, it's usually called 'assault' - not 'leadership'...I'll tell you what leadership is. It's persuasion - and conciliation - and patience. It's long, slow, tough work.’ By Dwight D. Eisenhower, stolen with pride from Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi.

‘A thought leader is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.’ (Wikipedia).

First step: know

The first step to claim this leadership you have to know your ‘why’, and needs to be in line with your purpose or mission. Pretty obvious you cannot claim to be the expert in a specific category if you do not have this in the heart of your ‘why’ and the brand.

Second step: claim with content

The second step is to claim it with the use of content. If your audience is looking for information on your category or industry. Create that content based on their needs and just make sure they can actually find it on the world wide web.

Be that leader and demonstrate your knowledge. Show your authority, help potential consumers to find what they need and empower them with your knowledge (to get their business). The key in this is to produce content that breaths your passion and enthusiasm in a non-commercial way. This type of content forms a part of the ‘Help’ layer of the YouTube HHH model. Content with a very long lifetime, with a solid basis in your website, easily found via Google with a solid presence on YouTube. This content is also the basis for your ‘always on’. It can be reused, and republished time after time. Worth the effort and investment.

Third step: consistency

The third step is to be consistent. Claiming your leadership is not a one-off. Nor is your leadership build on one campaign. It is all about your continuous effort to ‘prove’ your claims with content.


The ROI of content question

What if the C-level asks you for the 'ROI of content'? The answer is not what they want to hear, it is that you cannot measure exactly what the return on investment is for the content, there is no 1:1 attribution, probably you do not have a model in place to measure this attribution, just because it does not really exist. You can measure hard sales conversion coming from a (social) post of the content item. However, the growth in your likability by showing your passion and enthusiasm, your ‘why you do what you do’ as a brand, that is something you can not measure in short term hard data.

Why not answer this ROI question with a straight answering question: 'What is the value of thought leadership for our business?' 


You do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, it's usually called 'assault' - not 'leadership'...I'll tell you what leadership is. It's persuasion - and conciliation - and patience. It's long, slow, tough work.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Practical, Easy and Low Budget Tips

  • Use customer feedback, surveys, comments on social media posts and insights by the webcare or customer care team to create more content on your category or industry. Include these departments in your Editorial Board.
  • Use Google and YouTube keyword search queries. What are the first and second keywords your customers are searching on in your category or industry? Make sure you implement these in your actual content themes, see chapter 2 on ‘Structure’.
  • If you are having problems to convert the marketing sales message into leadership content, shift your perspective from ‘sales’ to ‘teaching’. Teaching through content is one of the easiest ways to connect and to give empowerment to your customers. Simply by adding value for them.


Sources: Content Marketing Institute newsletter - May 2017https://marketeer.kapost.com/build-authority-content/