Why wear a suit to a meeting?
It’s a rainy Wednesday morning, and our CEO Francesco is travelling to Milan to meet an important customer. He will be discussing future work opportunities and assessing the customer’s needs for them, as he always does. The customer’s offices are in a large and intimidating grey building, and the people in the building are all dressed in suits. As CEO of a rather unconventional software company, Francesco is not wearing a suit, but a warm jumper and a pair of old trainers. Does it matter? He thinks not, because his software company, mondora.com, is not hired for what it does, but why it does it. So he can wear what he wants.
mondora.com’s Pink Unicorn
And that’s where I come into play. My title in the company is Pink Unicorn – ie. I don’t have a title, so I might as well be a unicorn. But my role is far from undefined. I’m responsible for marketing and communications, both externally and internally. The role is vast, and covers a lot of aspects of the company. mondora.com is unconventional, especially compared to other European companies, and my role is to make this special quality shine through in my marketing strategy.
I have been greatly inspired by a talk I followed on TED.com by Simon Sinek, author of the book Start with Why. During his talk, Sinek repeated the same sentence over and over: “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. He repeated it so many times that, although I only watched his talk twice, it has stuck in my mind ever since. And it couldn’t be more true. But how do I get the why into my marketing strategy? By talking about what we don’t do.
Don’t ask us what we are, buy why we are.
mondora.com is a software company and therefore makes software, all day, every day. Exciting? Not really. Of course our current and future customers want to know that we make customised software solutions for every need, that we work with Agile and Scrum, that we have full-stack developers who know all about the latest technologies. Sure, we’re good, but we’re not better than the other good software companies out there. And customers soon tire of hearing all about how brilliant we are and how much we know about software. To keep them interested, to make them want to work with us, we must give them more. We must know, and share with them, why we work. We must share our values and our greater purpose. We must share why we are, and not what we are.
So as I work on mondora.com’s marketing I rarely post updates about what we do, what technologies we are using, what we are working on. Far more often, I post about why. We are a B Corporation and have a mission to use our profits for the benefit of the community in which we live and work. So I blog about why we have sponsored Bitto Storico cheese by buying a cheese for every new employee and creating a cycle of profits that are constantly re-invested in the community. I post updates about our crowdfunding platform for sustainable agricultural projects, which we are running for free to help local producers. I post about the people behind mondora.com, by sharing pictures and funny office moments. I post about who we are and why we work.
Results that matter come from why.
But does this kind of non-conventional marketing really work? There is a joke going round in the office that runs something like this: “oh, this thing we’ve done has nothing to do with our job, so we must post it on Facebook!”. But that’s not quite true. Hidden behind the rather robotic-sounding title of software developers, there are people who work because they are passionate, because they live in a company that does more than make software. People in mondora.com share a need to give something back to the community which hosts them, they want to use the company’s profits for something good for the world, they want to be part of change. And at mondora they get the chance to do just that.
Back to our rainy Wednesday customer in their grey office. They hired us immediately. The reason? “Your developers are no better than other developers, but the way you are is fantastic. You are like those companies we only read about in books, the ones that don’t really exist. But you exist and you are here, in Italy. You have amazing value”.
Turns out this customer had been following us closely on social media, and loved us, not for what we do, but for why we do it.