You’re great at what you do, but do your communities see the good you do for them?
Your purpose is to serve your clients, right? You offer products or services that your clients need and in turn make a profit to support your business. But do you have a deeper purpose? Some commitment that defines your true “why”?
There are purpose-driven companies in business today that have done a great job communicating their purpose and encouraging people to buy their goods and services – even if they are not the best on the market – as a way to build a connection with customers who share the same values. Some of the best known purpose-driven businesses include Accenture (“Improving the way the world works and lives.”) is heavily invested in its corporate citizenship programs; BlackRock (“Our purpose is to help more and more people experience financial well-being.”) has included environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices in its investment processes; and CVS (“Helping people on their path to better health..”) stopped selling tobacco products, with an anticipated impact to their bottom line. But there are a lot of other companies out there who are actively working to make a difference in the world but are not always recognized for their work. Maybe they intentionally work behind the scenes. Maybe they have just started down this path. Or maybe they are not sure how to build those value-driven relationships.
Having a written purpose statement does not necessarily mean your business is purpose-driven. It goes deeper than that. A purpose-driven philosophy will be seen not only in words, but in deeds and action. It is a living, tangible thing, that requires commitment and support from those within the organization. (How many CEOs do you know who would close their operations on Black Friday for #OptOutside like REI or refuse to lend to climate change deniers like Amalgamated Bank?) So, how do you discover whether your institution is truly purpose-driven? Ask yourself these three questions:
Question 1: This one is obvious: Do you think your company is purpose-driven? If the answer is yes, you should be easily able to state your purpose in a sentence or two. Think about how the business acts (over and above its standard mission of delivering goods or services). Are there things that make your business different and unique? Is there an underlying passion for a particular purpose or focus?
Question 2: Do your employees know and can they communicate your purpose? Your people deal with customers every day – face-to-face, by phone, via email, or online. How they interact with clients, prospective customers, influencers, vendors, the business community, and the public matters. These team members are the face and voice of your organization. That said, if you are purpose-driven, each of these team members should know it, (ideally) buy into it, and be able to communicate that purpose.
Question 3: Do your current clients know and can they communicate it? These clients are the reason you exist; they are also sharing their experiences and perceptions – good or bad – of the company with friends and family. Today’s customers are very perceptive. If you say your organization is purpose-driven but it is not, they will quickly note that fact. On the other hand, if you truly are purpose-driven, your fans will know and share this with others.
Did you answer yes to question #1?
That’s a great start. Every business should have a well-defined basic purpose. Then that purpose needs to be streamlined to make you stand apart. For example, if you provide financial services or offer management consulting, do you have processes in place to ensure diversity and inclusion? Or maybe your office and travel practices work toward a zero carbon footprint and a better environment? If so, those efforts should be part of your purpose.
It may take a little research and testing to ensure your final definition of purpose is on-target but having one that is authentic and resonates with team members and buyers can make you more successful.
Did you answer yes to questions #2 or #3?
Excellent! Employees are sometimes the first line of engagement when it comes to knowing and communicating your company’s purpose and marketing message to your target audience. How effectively can your team connect with potential customers, current clients, and other stakeholders, if they don’t know your purpose? Take some time to develop materials and a refresher seminar for your employees to attend. You want to get them excited and remind them once again what makes your company so special.
Do you have employees that are interested in representing the company at community events? Build a speaker bank or resource list and encourage them to share the message with the community.
Ongoing reminders of the purpose statement will help keep everyone on a similar path, so get the word out via social media, email, and other channels.
If you answered yes to all 3, congratulations!
Answering yes to all three questions is no easy achievement. The work does not stop here. Yes, it’s important for you to know your purpose and be able to clearly define it. It’s also important to have employees and customers know and communicate your purpose as well. But there is always more work to do.
The way we have done business in the past cannot remain the same. Expectations have evolved. Old operating models are no longer working. Staying relevant requires a fresh approach – one that is proactive and supports your why. And remember, your purpose statement is a living thing that may shift or grow over time. Make sure to reevaluate it periodically to make certain it still resonates with audiences and represents your core truth.
vitalink is here and happy to have a conversation about purpose-driven branding. If you’re ready to take your brand to the next level, give us a call today at 919.850.0605 to schedule a free 20-minute call with our president Jeanne Frazer to discuss your purpose-driven journey.
Jeanne Frazer has built vitalink into the premier purpose-driven branding and marketing firm in the southeast. She empowers organizations to discover their core brand truth(s) and help build purposeful relationships. A respected voice in the marketing community, Frazer creates research-based, purpose-driven solutions and strategies that create magic by increasing sales and engagement among communities and employees – she helped one business owner increase revenues by 1,000% in one year (though you may not see these same results!). She started vitalink to do more than just provide great marketing. She created an agency where team members thrive and make a difference for our clients, ourselves, our communities, and our world. Contact us today at 919.850.0605 to schedule a free 20-minute call with Jeanne to discuss your purpose-driven journey.