Are You Serious When You Say People Buy Your ‘Why?’

Just been to a social media conference. Not one but three speakers in a row have (mis-)quoted Simon Sinek saying, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you are doing it.” Really. Really? I start to rant…. Can someone wake up and smell the coffee.

Here’s what I have bought today:

  • Train ticket
  • Tube ticket
  • Uber taxi ride
  • Conference ticket
  • Chewing gum
  • Post-Its
  • Bottle of water
  • Bottle of beer


And do I care what any of these people’s ‘why’ is? No.

Yesterday we paid all our monthly business bills: business rates, water cooler, electricity, telephone, broadband.

And do I care what any of these people’s ‘why’ is? No.

Over the weekend, I went to the pub for a meal and drank beer. We went to a supermarket and bought wine. We went on to Netflix and watched some videos.

And do I care what any of these people’s ‘why’ is? No.

So, here’s the question. Why?

Why do people go on about the ‘why’ being the most important aspect of the business? I look at my bank statement and see purchases for airplane tickets, restaurant meals, newspapers, TV licence, pension.

And do I care what any of these people’s ‘why’ is? No.

I know why I do what I do. I know why it is important. To me. I thought people bought results or outcomes. They don’t buy what you do; they buy what you do, actually does for them. In my day they called that benefits.

Yes, of course it helps if I come from a ‘good’ place with the right intentions.

I help digital agency owners run the agency they really want to run so that they can live the life they really want to live.

Why do I do that? Do my clients really care?

No client has ever asked me “Why do you do what you do? What is your purpose? What is your why?”

Would I be more successful if I had a purpose? Would I be more profitable if I had a purpose?

I have seen no credible evidence-based research to support the opinion that ‘people buy your why’ yet it is presented as a fact. It is a lovely idea. It is something that people can relate to, but do I really need to have a ‘why’?

Of course, it makes potential customers relate better to my brand if they understand its origins. Of course, many people, especially B2C, like to buy from brands they can relate to. However, the big brands have bought into the ‘people buy your why’ mantra and claim to sell ‘authentic’, ‘craft’, ‘organic’ and other purpose-fuelled slogans.

I worry that people take ‘people buy your why’ and really believe it. Yes, I love those small brands that really care. But do we all need to have a purpose? Maybe instead you should talk about your brand benefits?


Here are our GYDA Initiative brand benefits. This is what you get from us when you work with us…


GYDA Brand Benefits


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