At Metro.co.uk, we often talk about being “made to share”.
I think that sharing is what we do, but not why we do it. Having a WHY is important, as Start With Why eloquently explains. (The 15 minute TED talk has racked up almost 20 million views).
People buy what you believe, not what you do.
Our WHAT may change. Perhaps we’ll shift our focus from shares to homepage views. But our WHY, our purpose, should be a constant that we can rally around.
Purpose and profit
Purpose feeds profit, and profit feeds purpose. They are symbiotic. If Metro’s WHY was simply profit then we’d become a property development company, or a recruitment company, not a news company.
Even if profit was our only goal, having an inspiring purpose helps attract customers. It helps attract, keep and motivate great talent. Purpose helps build the right culture and it helps guide product and content decisions.
The most successful news brands realise this. In MailOnline’s recent Investor Briefing they talked as much about quality journalism, images and video as they talked about profit.
Focusing solely on profit has been the downfall of many high-flying companies.
“At one time Boeing’s leaders would ‘eat, breathe, and sleep the world of aeronautics’. The company created the 747 and its fortunes soared. When in 1998 it shifted focus to shareholder return and return on investment the company, well, took a dive.”
(From Obliquity, by Financial Times guru John Kay).
You’re probably familiar with the “loyalty funnel” idea. It takes a bunch of seemingly disparate metrics (visitors, return visitors, direct visitors) and shows how they feed into each other. It gives them context.
Similarly, WHY, HOW and WHAT give us context for who we are as a company.
Let’s start with WHY. Cue next post.