What makes an exceptional W-W-W

The purpose of a business is to solve a problem for a customer…which drives every core leadership team to align on its W-W-W: that is, on WHAT their organization provides, WHO decides to buy their service or product, and WHY the buyer chooses them to buy it from.

With team alignment leaders can work to improve their W-W-W to set direction, perform better, and grow faster. To so do, it helps to know what distinguishes a good W-W-W from a great one, and what it takes to have one that is exceptional.

Simply put:

  • A good W-W-W describes the purpose of a business at some level. 

  • A great W-W-W goes deep to get at the essence of each W.

  • An exceptional W-W-W goes even deeper to reveal the emotion that drives the essence.

Consider this example of a good W-W-W for an accounting firm:

Good WWW

In an example of a great W-W–W for an Accounting firm there is a deeper definition for WHY that provides an experiential emotion triggered in the WHO by the WHAT as exemplified by the following:

Great WWW

Peace of mind is an emotion that explains the decision to purchase, yet what causes the emotion to occur is unsaid. After all, H&R Block and any of the big 4  accounting firms can also deliver the same peace of mind. To be exceptional, the WHY needs to reveal what instills the emotion that drives a decision to purchase the WHAT from the organization, as in this example:

Exceptional WWW

Clearly defining WHAT the customer buys, WHO the customer is that makes the buying decision, and pushing to know the emotion driving WHY the decision to purchase gets made is what makes for an exceptional W-W-W. It unlocks the deepest understanding for an aligned leadership team to distinguish their organization’s ability to market, sell, and deliver to realize extraordinary performance and growth.

Coffee Example

Consider, as another example, how Starbucks uses its understanding of WHY someone is willing to pay $7 for a cup of their coffee. Starbucks coffee is not all that different from coffee that can be purchased in any grocery store or donut shop. The experience delivered by the barista taking the order and preparing the coffee, in a lounge-like atmosphere drives an emotional experience worth the price for many people.

Starbucks uses this understanding to target people with means (WHO) who seek a comfortable, upscale spot to get away and enjoy a cup of coffee (WHAT) and provides them with an experience (WHY) that satisfies a need. Starbucks is selling an experience, not a commodity good, or service, but a deliberate combination of goods, services and setting that make customers feel a certain way.

You and your team can work on your organization’s W-W-W to do the same. Here’s how:

About the Author

Eric Palmer has 30+ years of outstanding success as a lead operating executive in private, public, private equity owned, and venture capital backed companies. He is particularly adept at strategy formulation, operational execution, International operations, M&A, leveraged debt, IPOs, and working with professional funders.

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