Do your prospects and customers know WHY you are in business?

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This month, I have been having a great time teaching a new class called Power Teaching.

I believe that teaching is a critical part of marketing, coaching, consulting and presenting. When you take a teaching approach in business, it strengthens your relationship with customers and extends the breadth and depth of your offerings.

About 150 of us are digging into how you design a great learning experience, choose the best content, reinforce learning with a variety of exercises, and engage learners in a way that draws on their life experience. I will be publishing a complete listing of all the great classes they are producing on September 8 here on the blog.

As part of the first Power Teaching class, I surprised participants with a secret guest appearance from Dan Pink. He shared insight about what he learned about teaching from his research, writing and speaking about two of his many excellent books, A Whole New Mind and Drive.

The final tip he shared with the group is the importance of communicating the bigger purpose of your teaching, answering WHY it is important to learn. Listen in on his explanation here:

I think this is the missing ingredient in many businesses. We get so focused on selling features and benefits and programs and products that we forget to tell the story of why we chose to go in business in the first place.

My passion for business has a deep root in wanting to see positive social and economic change in all sectors of society, and helping people create their own definition of success so they feel free and happy.

What about you?

If you feel like sharing:

  • Why does your company exist, beyond the obvious purpose of making money?
  • What is the story behind your business, and your role in it?
  • If you have employees, do you think they know why your company is in business?


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11 Responses to “Do your prospects and customers know WHY you are in business?”

  1. Dan says:

    Reminds me of the TED talk on the Power of Why, I rewatch this every few months:

    I think it’s essential not only for your marketing but also for the reason why you get out of bed in the morning! Once you know why it becomes easier to make decisions and reduces the clutter of all the other stuff that isn’t important.

    Our reason why is because we know how hard it is to run a small business, how many different people give you advice (some of dubious quality), how much different technology is out there you can use. We don’t think running a business needs to be a chore, we think it needs to be awesome.

  2. Susan Kuhn says:

    That WAS a fabulous class.

    My WHY is related to yours: I want people to understand the absolute power of business to change the world for the better. Whether it is feeding a family or promoting the free exchange of ideas, exchanging money for valued goods and services is what makes so much of life happen. And examining our ideas about business and money — selling, being sold to, making and managing money — we unearth things about ourselves that open up the greatest possibilities to personal growth, understanding of the world, and being at peace in our heart of hearts. It’s a fabulous journey — and a fabulously important one for individuals, their communities, and our nation and world.

  3. Carlos says:

    I know well the reason I was here fiftteen years ago. Now, I’m not sure why I’m here, on the same desk. At first, my job was part of an exciting project that brought great satifactions to all people involved on it. Today my tasks are boring and the work environment strained. Now we lookin for the enticement of innovation … We can do it! (I hope so).

  4. Rosie Taylor says:

    The question of WHY is always a big one in business and in life generally speaking. Like Derek Sivers in Anything You Want, CD Baby saw great success when the employees understood the why of CD Baby. Biz owners should share their passion, the WHY of why they’re in business to begin with. The energy that comes from sharing their passion is contagious going from the employees straight to the customers. When everyone shares the why, they share in the successes. Knowing the “Why” and sharing the “Why” is the key. What an epic thought. Thanks, Pam.

  5. Getting back to your initial question…I’d say perhaps half do not know our full menu of offerings. They see a service provider as filling a need for that service. If someone is a bookkeeper, business coach and motivational trainer, yet hired by a client for bookkeeping services, then the client may not know what other services this vendor provides. You have to promote your full menu to clients and leverage relationships that are already strong.

  6. Gwyn Michael says:

    Perfect timing for me to consider this. I am a visual artist rebranding and building my website. I know why I do what I do but the hard part is figuring out why anyone should care and buy my work? I think communicating my why accurately can help answer that…maybe. It seems so much harder with this kind of art.

  7. fas says:

    Very well said, I am sure first one needs to decide for self why they are in business!

  8. Pam – this is great! Thank you for sharing the audio clip from the call with Dan as the surprise guest.

    The “Why” is critical at so many levels – as Lisa Alessi mentioned in her comment: we must be able to articulate “Why”. Simon Sinek is another great resource with his explanation of “Why” using his Golden Circle model.

    In my work I have found you need to clearly understand “Why”, which I state as “Purpose”. Every Person, business, organization, department, program, and project must have a clearly understood, simply stated Purpose.

    In my most recent post I share an experience with a non-profit organization struggling with project selection. After the board was able to articulate the organization’s Purpose, projects which supported the Purpose became obvious.

    Years later, the organization still articulates its Purpose and has it posted in the “About” section of its web site. Very satisfying for me to see the work we did is still in use!

  9. Pat Katepoo says:

    When I first held a part-time professional position I thought, “Why can’t all my friends do this?” Work Options was borne out of that query in 1993. I wanted everyone to have more work-life balance. My vision (the “why”) is that all who use the Work Options flexible work proposal templates will have more time, energy and attention for their spouses, their children and for others through good works, thus strengthening their marriages, families and communities.

  10. Lisa Alessi says:

    Thank you so much Pam, I am loving this class and am so appreciative for the inspiration you provide us and those of such great thought leaders like Dan Pink and Seth Godin.

    This post hits a resonate chord with me, as you know, since helping others Find Their “WHY” has become the body of my work!

    When you can articulate why you are motivated to do the work you do and what you truly believe in like you just did, others who believe the same thing will be drawn to you. And I believe what you believe in that when people are doing the work they love and are successful at it, great change in our societies will follow!

    For me, I’m personally motivated to help people find their “WHY” because despite having had a tremendous drive and passion throughout my career, I’ve always felt like I’ve lacked direction and an understanding of why I was motivated to do the things that I do. There was a missing link and I couldn’t put my finger on it! It wasn’t unit I discovered my “WHY” that everything came together.

    So my foundational work helps people get to the root of what truly motivates them so they can see the patterns of their behavior like pieces of a puzzle that come together to form the big picture. When you are able to connect the dots or patterns in your life, you get the AHA realization that you’ve been apprenticing for the role you are growing into all your life. Through this process they gain an awareness and connection to who they are and always have been as well as who they are becoming. It’s incredibly rewarding work that saves people years of frustration, time, energy and money.

    So WooHoo to the “WHY” and thank you so much for sharing Dan’s wisdom, posting on this very important topic and leading such a great group of socially conscious and inspiring leaders!

  11. Beautiful! What a great thought to have in my mind’s forefront when creating a class, teleclass, or any other learning opportunity. Why is this important?

    Thanks Pam and Daniel for that great insight!

    Cindy Caldwell