Would one of your customers give all of their business to you and stop doing business with all of your competitors?
Would one of your customers enthusiastically refer you to one of their friends?
Would one of your customers accept your latest price increase, no questions asked?
Do you know why?
When customers act, there is always a “why.”
Your Big Why
Your Big Why is the set of compelling reasons that encourage your customers to act in ways that improve your business results. It is the central reason that customers fall in love with your company and its products.
Your Big Why is the essence of what makes you important to your customers. It is at the core of compelling customer beliefs. It is the fundamental reason you matter to your customers.
Little Whys vs. Big Whys
Read a company’s marketing communications — ads, direct mail, social media posts, website, etc. — and you will read lots of whys. But these are mostly Little Whys.
Little Whys are the explanations that describe why a company and its products are so incredibly amazing.
“United Airlines has more non-stops to Asia than any other airline”
“Acme Plumbing and Electric will only send certified technicians to your home”
“Our new probiotic has 75 billion beneficial bacteria”
These are Little Whys because they are about the company or the product. They are not about the customer. They require the customer to do the work of asking, “So, what’s in it for me?”
Your Big Why is never about your product features, technical specs or any of your other offerings, and it’s certainly not that you’ve been in business since 1988. Those are Little Whys.
Your Big Why is always about impact. It is always about the positive effect a customer believes that you have on them.
When a customer understands and believes in your Big Why, she doesn’t have to ask “What’s in it for me?” Instead, she clearly knows, “This is what’s in it for me.”
Do you know your Big Why?
Can you clearly articulate what you want customers to believe about why you matter to them? Can you describe the compelling reasons why you impact customers in positive ways? Can you describe why a customer would prefer you over all of your competition, because of the powerful, positive effect you have on them?
Your best customers provide insights into
your Big Why
My team and I usually begin every strategy project with a set of deep interviews with our client’s customers. Although we don’t expect these customers to specifically articulate the Big Why, conversations with customers who are fiercely loyal to our client always give us hints of the Big Why.
For example, in a recent project for Calico Cottage, a provider of turnkey fresh fudge programs for thousands of retailers, we heard many store owners describe how Calico Cottage’s fudge program made their businesses more successful. “Success” meant different things to different people, but the common thread was that these retailers believed that Calico Cottage helped their businesses thrive. The Big Why we discovered for Calico Cottage is “Sweeten Your Success.”
When we interviewed the customers of retail display maker AMD, the customers who were more passionate about AMD were those who believed that the company’s displays helped their products sell better in competitive retail environments. In other words, more consumers say “yes” when a product is on an AMD display. The Big Why we discovered for AMD is “We Create Yes.”
Many customers of Calico Cottage and AMD already had a Big Why in their minds when they thought of these companies, just as many of your customers already have a Big Why in their minds when they think of you. The challenge is to discover this Big Why, and then to build your entire customer experience around it.
How to communicate your Big Why
A Big Why is not something you promise. It is something you do. Yes, all of your marketing and sales communications should be based on your Big Why, but don’t stop there.
Your customers will come to believe in your Big Why if every interaction they have with you blends with every other interaction, in brand harmony, to give them the belief your company impacts them in powerful, positive ways.
Although your Big Why may end up as a themeline on your website, it is so much more than that. It is the essence of why you matter to your customers, and why they can’t live without you.