David Strategy #4: Start With Your 'Why'

The David Strategy is a blog series that explains who pool and spa retailers can reinvent their business to become a "High Fidelity business," which is key to successfully battling our industry's version of Goliath — big box stores and online retailers. Past posts can be seen here.

Ever wonder about the “secret sauce” Steve Jobs used to guide Apple in its incredibly successful transformation? We all know the story of Steve’s firing from Apple and how the company almost immediately fell on bad times as a result. But when Steve returned, he quickly reinvented Apple computers and went on to transform four more industries: communications (with the rise of the smartphone), music, movie/TV delivery and movie making (remember Apple used to own Pixar?).

And for that matter, how did he develop such a passionate base of consumers and employees — a "tribe," as we call it?

This post will share his secret and guide you on your own journey to re-invent your backyard leisure pool and hot tub business. I'll cover the most important concepts below, but if you want to read a great resource on the subject and how Steve Jobs succeeded, order a copy of Simon Sinek's awesome book "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action." If you want a brief overview, take a look at Sinek's TED Talk on the subject.

Let's return to the question: What was the strategy Steve Jobs used over and over to literally transform five highly competitive and combative industries while at the same time creating the world’s most profitable business less than eight years after Apple almost went bankrupt, just before Steve’s return as CEO?

The answer is, he started with “why.”

The first step in building your own High Fidelity business with the David Strategy is to shift your focus to clarity on the “why” of your business. Doing so will aid you in challenging assumptions and out of date paradigms and help you see how to need to move your business.

As it turns out, there is deep science to this, which Simon Sinek explains in his book. In Apple's case, we know that despite much higher prices (and what is often not even the most advanced technology), Apple products are addictive. Apple consumers and employees are part of a unique tribe bonded by the same passion, which provoked a massive wave of adoption that few companies have ever achieved.

To create that momentum, we need to understand how people make purchase decisions and translate that into business strategy.

In his book and in his teaching, Simon Sinek lays out how the mind works when approaching purchase decisions, and he demonstrates how Steve Jobs leveraged this concept with so much success. Take a look at the diagram of the brain below and how it relates to what Simon refers to as “the Golden Circle” of how purchase decisions are really made. Value-added selling is not about logic — it’s about aspirations and emotions.

Steve Jobs’ secret sauce, something you can use with the David Strategy in transforming your business, is reversing how most businesses approach their business. Talking and focusing mostly on “what” you sell and “how” you sell it misses the critical step — the “why” of what you sell. Steve Jobs, in every instance, always started with the “why”. So that’s the starting point in transforming your business: let go of trying to beat Goliath on his own terms. Choose your battlefield. That is the “why” of a remarkable backyard experience.

Think about how you pitch the sale of a pool or a hot tub: the presentations you make, your marketing, your displays. Too much is often about the “what” and the “how” — “These are the products we use,” “Use this filter or finish,” “This tub has 87 jets,” etc.

Instead, focus on the “why” of what you do, and why you are the best option because of that. “We are all about helping you create memory-making experiences,” “We are all about family wellness, from mental and physical health to enjoying family and friends,” “We are all about awesome conversations by the pool or hot tub.” Yes, the “what” and “how” have to be weaved in, but selling value-added, unique, differentiated and remarkable products is all about the “why” and the remarkable experiences you offer your consumers.

Take a look at the diagram below, which summarizes the focus of almost all businesses in the pool and hot tub industry and helps us understand why “Goliath” - big box, Internet providers and discounters - are hacking away at your customer following and business. There is too much focus on approaching the golden circle from the outside in, starting with “what” and “how”, and perhaps a sprinkle of the “why”, of the benefits of remarkable backyard water wellness environments. Steve made his leadership imperative to get his business focused on the opposite: start with the “why” and then work outward.

Finally, here is a diagram to guide you to a better way, and to the best place to start reinventing your business:


I gave you a lot to think about in this blog. Why should someone do business with you?

Dennis Gray is the co-founder — along with one of the most experienced teams of innovative industry professionals — of Backyard Brands Inc., and former President of Biolab’s International Group of companies. Backyard Brands is focused on one mission: to develop differentiated and remarkable backyard water wellness products sold exclusively through Backyard Leisure Professionals who have a passion for reinventing their businesses to compete more successfully in this new age.

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