Every business has two options for marketing their products and services. Learn more about them here.

Option 1: The “What/How” Approach

“My product has great features, an amazing warranty and a fair price. Want to buy my product?”

Option 2: The “Why/Belief” Approach

“I believe in solving this problem. It should be easier/better and that’s why I do what I do.”

In his lecture, Simon explains that the brain uses different parts to process the What/How and the Why/Belief messages. Interestingly, the part of the brain that processes the Why/Belief doesn’t have the ability to control language. It’s the part of the brain that gives you your “gut feeling” or your “something doesn’t feel right” sensor. It’s the part of the brain that controls what you believe and helps control decision-making. Ironically, it’s the last part of the brain to which businesses typically appeal.

Simon used some well-known brands as examples of companies who use the Why/Belief approach but I want to use a local Columbus company called Zen Windows founded by Dan Wolt. After decades in the window business, Dan developed the belief that, “It shouldn’t be this way. The customer deserves better.” So he created Zen Windows upon the foundation that he believed buying windows should be simple, relaxing and comfortable.

Dan could have done what everyone else does and start a window business with the belief that “I have great windows and can make a lot of money if people buy my windows.” Instead, Dan started his business with the WHY - based on a core BELIEF that drives everything he does. Dan’s business model appeals to customers who share the same belief that buying windows should be easy. As Simon says in his lecture, people buy your products as a way of saying “I believe that too.”

Here are the two marketing options again using the Zen Windows example:


Option 1: The “What/How” Approach

“My windows come with triple pane glass and are energy efficient. You can get them in tan or white. I’ll give you a discount if you buy today.”

Option 2: The “Why” Approach

“I believe buying windows shouldn’t put any pressure on the homeowner. I want you to make the best decision so I don’t confuse you with pricing games. Here are my products. Let me know how I can help you make a good decision.”

Who would you buy your window from? Dan sells his belief before he sells his windows. Not because he thinks it’s a good strategy but because he truly believes it should be a better experience. That is why Zen Windows has become one of the top window companies in Ohio with minimal marketing and a small team. It turns out, there are a lot of homeowners who share Dan’s belief.

This post is inspired by Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire change.