Whatever you want to get out of article writing and content marketing, there’s one thing you’re probably getting wrong:
You’re focusing on the result, whether it’s traffic, profit, or exposure in general.
When you focus on the result, no connection is made between you and the reader. You’re essentially just another article in a vast sea of informative articles on the Internet.
Discover where your focus should be, what you can learn from a coffee shop, and how you can create loyal readers.
I’ll Buy Why You Do It
We recently discussed how you must give before you take and the resultant rewards, such as established trust and the ability to meet the needs of your readers with solution-driven, fear-alleviating content.
There was one element missing from that post …
Making your article truly worth writing and reading.
If it seems to you like writing informative articles that merely meet your readers’ needs isn’t enough, you’re right. It will get you some views and your readers will be thankful for the information you provide, but it simply won’t position you as a leader in your niche.
To be a leader, you need to inspire action and behavior in your readers that’s tied to you and your platform. However, you can’t focus on the result you want. You have to focus on why they should care.
I recently listened to Simon Sinek’s still highly relevant 2009 TED talk on How Great Leaders Inspire Action and was struck by this easily forgotten statement:
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.“
Whether you get wrapped up in the details – writing keyword-driven titles, following market trends, launching, positioning your brand, and increasing visibility, the why you do it gets lost. Once you lose the why, you lose focus on the people you are trying to serve. The status quo for failing marketing methods tends to be the following (in order).
- What you do.
- How you do it.
- Why you do it.
Even if you are the most qualified expert in your niche, this is the exact formula for abysmal article failure – it’s outdated and no one can identify with it. It will exhaust all of the resources you dedicate to article writing and it will make you doubt whether content marketing is a viable option for your niche.
Sinek continues on to say all those who have succeeded, such as brands like Apple and even great leaders like Martin Luther King, have done so because they flipped this order. He refers to this concept as the “Golden Circle”:
Why you do it.
What’s your purpose, cause, or belief, and more importantly, why should anyone care?
How you do it.
What’s your UVP or what separates you from others in order to accomplish your why?
What you do.
What do you literally do, such as your niche or your expertise?
By turning this process around and the emphasis on the reader or user, you completely change your connection with your audience. You’re no longer just another author writing another article. By establishing why first, you’re someone your readers can identify with – now your readers can see themselves through you.
And that, my friends, is the secret to making your article worth writing and reading.
Don’t pursue the result – money or traffic. Pursue your belief in why you are doing it. The readers who share your purpose, cause, or belief will follow you.
When I Realized My Favorite Coffee Shop Follows the Golden Circle Formula
After listening to Sinek’s talk, I took a coffee break to meet with one of our editors at a local shop just down the street from HQ. As I grabbed my coffee and sat down in a great blue chair near the street-view window, it dawned on me that this coffee shop I visited so frequently follows Sinek’s Golden Circle formula to a t:
The Coffee Shop’s Why
When you initially walk in to the coffee shop, you walk past other patrons sitting at tables and chairs enjoying a coffee and latte amongst colorful local art work, the smell of roasted coffee, the fresh light coming from the windows, and the old-building preservation that promotes a sense of community and self. This is the why – what makes coming here worth it. Anything can be complicated, but if you pause for a few moments to refresh, renew, and simply be in the community you are a part of, you can see the world much more clearly and appreciate the simple things. This is what this coffee shop stands for and why you can see me sitting here.
The Coffee Shop’s How
It’s easy for anyone: grab a latte, coffee, tea – whatever your beverage of choice – have a seat, take a sip, and relax, read the book you brought, or have a discussion – this is your moment to just be you without pretense.
The Coffee Shop’s What
Quite simply, they’re a local coffee roaster who by supporting their business, you support other local organizations they contribute to in order to appreciate and foster community.
“Want to buy a cup of coffee?”
While I love the coffee at this particular shop, I could just as easily go to the national coffee chain that’s closer to HQ. Or I could save an extra $2.50 per cup by brewing my own coffee and be satisfied with it if that was my reason for going: the coffee. But that’s not what keeps me coming back to this little shop. Like the others who keep coming back and telling everyone about it, the patrons of this particular coffee shop can easily see themselves sitting here. They can see themselves supporting community efforts. They can see themselves being the type of person who appreciates sitting in the moment. They can see themselves, period. And that fosters loyalty.
It’s Your Turn to Embrace the Why
Sure, writing a great title will get your reader in the door and giving solution-driven content will help you build credibility, exposure, and more, but if you want your article to be truly worth it, then use the Golden Circle Formula:
- Establish the why of your topic in the introduction.
- Tell them how they can achieve it in the article body.
- Show them what in your conclusion.
Bear in mind, your articles should be non-self-serving; i.e., the “how” and what should not “take” by promoting you or a product or service that you are affiliated with. You and your blog or business can be the “what” in the Resource Box, but ensure that your efforts don’t tease the reader by failing to deliver your why’s promise in the article body.
I’ll leave you with one last quote from Sinek that I strongly believe you should embrace:
“We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves.”
Avoid getting trapped in an unrewarding cycle that’s created by focusing on the results. Share your purpose, cause, or belief. Allow others see themselves through you.
Can you cite any other examples of authors or brands who lead by “why”? Do you have a question or comment? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!
* Sinek, Simon. “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” TEDxPuget Sound, September 2009.