Using Sinek’s Golden Circle in your content marketing strategy

You are probably aware of the saying ‘content is king’, right? That’s because content marketing is a vital ingredient of any digital campaign. Not only in answering your audience’s questions but also in building trust, generating leads, and improving conversions. To achieve that, the content you create needs to be high-quality, informative, entertaining and provide answers to the questions your visitors are asking. Yet with the vast amount of content that is readily available, you need to find a way to make your content stand out and resonate emotionally with the reader. Let’s take a further look at how you can do that.

Discover how to create a successful content marketing strategy

Content marketing

Content marketing 
Developing a successful content marketing strategy that will make an impression and boost conversions is not a simple task. While the forefront of any inbound marketing strategy is creating content that’s relevant and appealing, you also need to make sure your content has value. Investing in an effective content marketing strategy can have long-term benefits for your business. Not only does it help in generating leads and improving your conversions, but it can also:

  • Improving your visibility in search engines
  • Increase domain authority
  • Increase referrals and traffic to your website
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Increase revenue
  • Boost engagement on social media

Implementing an effective content marketing plan within your inbound marketing strategy can help you to maximise results. Delivering content that seeks to provide value will help in attracting, engaging, and delighting your customers. That’s what inbound marketing is all about. But how do you add value to your content to make it stand out and appeal more to your target customers?

Emotional and information appeal

Emotional and information appeal in content marketing

An emotional appeal uses messages within your content marketing that seeks to evoke an emotional response. Using an emotional appeal in your messaging allows your potential customers to connect strongly with your brand.

An informational appeal seeks to provide information and educate potential customers. Using an informational appeal does not evoke any strong feelings. While an information appeal may be good for certain steps in the buyer’s journey (such as the decision stage), you need to create a strong impression at the attract and consideration stages to form a meaningful brand connection. Your customers may remember the message but not necessarily your brand.

That’s where an emotional appeal comes out on top. Using an emotional appeal allows your potential customers to connect emotionally with your brand. It is also an effective way to build trust. By making your brand more relatable, you can help create a strong impact which will increase engagement and help boost your conversion rate.

Understanding your customers is important in order to create an effective emotional appeal. That’s where developing your buyer persona’s come in handy. What also helps to create an effective emotional appeal is through stories or telling a story. This is where Sinek’s Golden Circle comes into play.

Sinek’s Golden Circle

Simon Sinek's Golden Circle model 
Sinek is often quoted for saying “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. The ‘why’ is an important way for you to build an effective emotional appeal in your messaging, and this will help your content to feel more natural and appealing.

By focusing fundamentally on ‘why’ you can create a story that will help your content to feel more authentic. When building your content marketing strategy around Sinek’s golden circle, you can develop a narrative for your content. Content with a narrative will be much more engaging to your audience. 

So, what is Sinek’s golden circle? Sinek’s golden circle is a concept that provides an interesting insight into why some people (and businesses) can inspire others. Interestingly, the golden circle was not originally developed as a content strategy. Sinek originally used the golden circle, first outlined in a popular TED talk, to outline why some leaders, whether it be business leaders or politicians, were able to inspire people. It has since been used as a way for business to tailor their content and messaging to inspire and engage their customers.

Sinek’s golden circle focuses on three key questions:

  • Why do you do it?
  • How do you do it?
  • What do you do?

Sinek argues that many businesses will start with ‘what’ and then work through to ‘how’ and ‘why’. To stand out, you need to differentiate yourself. That is achieved by ‘why’. Many competing businesses will have the same or similar ‘what’. It’s ‘why’ that makes a strong impact.


The Golden Circle - why

If you want to inspire your potential customers to act, you need to start with why – your purpose, cause, or belief. Why is one of the most important messages you should base your content marketing on. People are much more able to connect with your brand if you provide a narrative about why you are doing what you are doing. What are you trying to achieve? What’s the reason?

The reason this is so effective is down to the way the brain works. Here comes the science bit! The side of the brain, known as the limbic, is the side of the brain involved in behavioural and emotional responses. The limbic system is involved in the processing and regulating of our emotions, including memories, learning, and feelings. Focusing on the ‘why’ helps to create emotions, and that can have a strong impact due to it affecting the side of the brain that influences behaviour.

Starting your story and messages with why will have a much stronger and more effective impact than ‘what’, for that reason. Key messages such as explaining your purpose, the reason for doing something, why you behave in a particular way, or providing a value proposition, are all ways to inspire your customers. Focusing on why will also help influence feelings of trust, loyalty, and positive decision-making.

Here are some examples:

  • Uber: transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone.
  • Airbnb: to connect millions of people in real life all over the world
  • Google: to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful
  • Ted: spread ideas


The Golden Circle - How

The second part of Sinek’s golden circle is how. This stage focuses on how you achieve your why objective. Whether it is the processes you follow or the systems you have in place, the way you set out to achieve your why will separate your business from your competitors. Sometimes how can be referred to as your unique value proposition or unique selling point. It comes down to how you are different from your competitors, which helps to build a more engaging and relatable story.

The main focus of setting out how in your content marketing is to set out your strengths and values. It provides the framework for why and helps provide support for your content marketing emotional appeal. 

Another consideration of how is curiosity. Including how in your content marketing helps to drive curiosity that can increase a potential customers interest and engagement with your brand, especially for customers who are at the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.

The why stage is a good way to get customers interested and attracted to your brand, but the how stage helps build curiosity to seek new information and experiences that could lead them along the buyer’s journey.


The Golden Circle - what

The last part of Sinek’s golden circle is what. This is the easiest step and is the one all businesses will know. It is the products they sell, the services they offer and the solutions they provide. All businesses will be able to easily identify their what, but a common mistake many businesses make is starting with what. This should always be the last message you put across in your content marketing.

Unlike why and how, the what stage of Sinek’s golden circle does not engage with the limbic part of the brain that processes emotions and feelings. Instead, the what messages engage with the neocortex. While the neocortex makes up around half of the human brain, it does not have any influence on emotions and feelings. Instead, the neocortex is the rational part of the brain, responsible for neuronal computations, including thought and perception.

As the neocortex part of the brain does not drive decision-making in the same way the limbic part does, what messages fail to create an emotional impact on your potential customers. While you still need to include what you do to create an appealing story, it should not be at the forefront of your message. Instead, what should be one of the last things you focus on in your content marketing strategy, ideally at the decision stage of the buyer’s journey.

Implementing the golden circle in your content marketing strategy and developing messages with an emotional appeal will help customers connect strongly with your brand. Focusing on why you do what you do will help to create a strong impact and build trust. You will then stand a much better chance of creating successful content which will guide your customers along the buyer’s journey.

Check out these tips on developing a successful inbound marketing strategy