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How to tell if your business matters to people

Pho­to cour­tesy of Mihai Andoni (

A key ques­tion I ask brands is “Why does your busi­ness mat­ter to peo­ple?” This is a val­ues ques­tion that unlocks the mys­tery of why our client start­ed in the first place.

Many busi­ness own­ers strug­gle with this ques­tion. They think they have to be all things to all peo­ple. They think they need the biggest audi­ence for their mes­sage. And then they end up cre­at­ing a mes­sage that’s a mile wide and an inch deep because it neglects the “why.” This often results is cost-focused cus­tomers who are a poor fit for your com­pa­ny, leav­ing you with the fad­ing mem­o­ry of the excite­ment you had when you first start­ed. But here’s the cool thing: get­ting back to “why” can help you fall back in love with your busi­ness and ben­e­fit from the finan­cial suc­cess that comes with it.

Its starts with a sim­ple task: find out why you mat­ter. It clar­i­fies why peo­ple choose you over the busi­ness down the street that does exact­ly what you do (or so it seems) by ask­ing “what’s that thing that makes your cus­tomers care if you dis­ap­pear tomor­row?”

Here’s my sug­ges­tion: don’t answer this ques­tion your­self. Instead, find a way to get that infor­ma­tion from your cus­tomers. And make it a lit­tle more per­son­al than a ques­tion­naire. Cus­tomers have to be able to talk about why those things are impor­tant to them, and they need to be able to do it in their own words.

The point is find­ing out how to adver­tise based on what mat­ters to peo­ple.

But it’s not just for advertising’s sake. When you’re focus­ing on mak­ing people’s lives bet­ter, it imme­di­ate­ly gives more impor­tance to the work you do. And what’s cool­er than watch­ing your employ­ees make your cus­tomers’ lives bet­ter and feel good about the work they’re doing?

Because nobody ever goes into busi­ness just for the mon­ey, no mat­ter what they tell you. There’s always a “why” that goes with it, and makes every busi­ness dis­tinct and spe­cial. Find the why and you can con­fi­dent­ly tell the world how your busi­ness makes life a lit­tle bet­ter.