Do you want to know why some companies are more innovative, more profitable, command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? It’s because they start by asking “why,” according to Simon Sinek, an ethnographer, author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and speaker (his TED speech is among my favorites).
Holly Lynch started her company with the “why” in mind: Why do women, who control 85% of consumer spending in the US lead only 4% of the companies they buy from?
Lynch didn’t start her company, The 85 Percent, because she is a feminist, though she is. She started her company because by understanding why women buy, you develop better products and communicate about them more effectively. With clearer differentiation, you create a competitive advantage and are more profitable.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” said Sinek. “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you do. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
Women control the consumer purchase decisions not just for obvious products and services such as food, home, family, and healthcare, but even banking, automotive, and travel. Lynch has worked with companies in virtually all these categories. While working at ad agencies, her clients have included Dove, Frito Lay, Levi’s, Toyota, Sharp, and IBM, among others.
The 85 Percent works with companies that believe in bringing a woman’s perspective into the design and marketing of products aimed at women. By better understanding why women buy your product, you’ll make more sales. “The heart makes the decision,” said Lynch. “The head justifies it.” You need to appeal at an emotional level.
One way companies can ensure that a woman’s perspective becomes ingrained into the design and marketing of products is to make sure that women are part of the management team. The 85 Percent also works with companies on leadership for up-and coming-women (and sometimes men) in their companies.
Lynch is driven by a purpose: making sure women live up to their potential to drive economic health. She does this not only in her business life but in her personal life. She is an angel investor, advisor, and mentor who helps women entrepreneurs define their “why?” and build their businesses.
What’s your why?