Some brands embrace a higher purpose than shareholder value or simply making good widgets. Unilever has their Sustainable Living Plan which among other things aims to “Help more than a billion people to improve their health and well-being.” Purpose does not necessarily refer to a social mission. Most companies of any size have some type of community commitment. MasterCard has a stated mission, “Every day, everywhere, we use our technology and expertise to make payments safe, simple and smart.” That is bigger and broader than facilitating transactions or driving good returns.
Even Caterpillar – yes, the company that makes big yellow earth movers and cranes – has a belief in the “the Age of Smart Iron.” Like GE, they see their future dependent upon their ability to innovate beyond their mechanical heritage and into the connected future.
There are a lot of benefits for companies that not only articulate a higher or broader purpose but who also walk-the-walk by behaving in ways that demonstrate their true commitment.
Some of the benefits include:
Aligning internal business leaders around a common purpose and mission – this makes even the most decentralized business more strategic and improves the impact of disparate leaders.
Telegraphing growth potential and focus to investors – this attracts the right type of investors who believe in the future of a company not just its next quarter results.
Strengthens retention and productivity of the workforce – this gives us all a better reason to wake up everyday to make the donuts and proudly share what we all do
Attracts the right type of business partner who shares cultural beliefs and values the brand and business – this expands business opportunities by becoming the partner of choice
Expands the impact of marketing by giving more reasons for customers to care and stick with the brand – this improves the bottom line by improving customer value
Expand the Impact of Marketing
Brands that only talk about their product or service are settling for a transactional relationship with customers. They are also limiting their usefulness to their customers to the brief window in which a customer has decided to buy something like what they sell.
As marketers, we now think about a more complete ‘buyer journey’ that starts well in advance of a purchase and continues through the life a paying customer. Before you actually buy that perfect stovetop, you may be thinking of remodeling your kitchen to create that ‘family hearth’ of your home or to have a professional chef-level kitchen to let you express your inner Master Chef.
So, before you start shopping or even start questioning your friends about their choices and experience, you may be reading the SubZero/Wolf blog, Food Notes, after browsing through Pinterest for gourmet kitchens. Wolf’s ‘purpose’ is appropriately bigger than stovetop sales but smaller than solving world hunger. Here’s what they say about themselves, “Together (SubZero + Wolf), we are dedicated to helping you create the beautiful, high-performance kitchen of your dreams.”
This gives them a broad platform to create content and engage people at many stages of their journey from gourmet cooking (the bulk of their stories on the blog) to kitchen design and ‘outfitting’ to inside peaks at other ‘high-performance kitchens.’
More reasons for potential customers to engage, more relevance, more reasons to trust Wolf’s expertise, more reasons to prefer them when you finally do purchase, more reasons to share this content with someone you know who also cares about gourmet food and kitchens.
IBM developed the poster-child concept for purpose-driven marketing with Smarter Planet. They have since moved on to something that is a little closer to home but still reflects belief and purpose – ‘cognitive.’
While the Smarter Planet POV focused on responding to the inevitable growth of cities across the globe, cognitive is more about seizing the advantage in a new era of computing – “Cognitive computing is able to unlock the potential in all data - internal, external, structured, unstructured, voice, and visual - and make it work together. Enterprises can make better operational decisions, understand customer wants and needs, communicate in real time, and optimize business processes – infused with the cognitive ability to understand, reason, and learn.”
They are seizing the opportunity formed by the tension within all business leaders to do something significant with “big data.” IBM Watson has the answer.
This broad (and insightful) platform and purpose will give IBM tons of content marketing opportunities to reach prospects, customers, resellers, employees, influencers and more for years to come. Just look at the wealth of topics on their Outthink site. It sure beats talking “speeds and feeds.”