Starting a new venture and thriving in today’s economy is hard, but the best have figured out that customers and employees need to feel that you have a sense of purpose to complement the company’s pursuit of profit. A higher purpose motivates people in a way that financial wins alone never will. For a company to thrive, it needs to find and broadcast its purpose in all that it does.
A great product or service as a solution is necessary, but not sufficient. If you want your company and team members to be seen as going above and beyond the competition, you need to include an element that adds social value or sustainability for the greater community. For example, Whole Foods is involved in efforts to safeguard the environment and ensure humane treatment of animals.
Nearly 80 percent of customers say they are more loyal to purpose-driven brands than to traditional brands, and almost three-quarters are more willing to defend them, or even pay a premium, according to the 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study. Here are eight specific suggestions for how you can add purpose to your company’s image and execution:
- Let your passion and skills define a mission you can love. Make sure you select a mission that adds shared value and provides a competitive edge, as well as playing to your strengths and interests. Assess likely industry changes and disruption over the next five years, and structure your business plan to lead the way with personal commitment.
- Become a thought leader early through social media. Today, anyone with a purpose can test his or her message through blogging, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and many other channels. Customers are attracted to provocative thought leaders such as Sir Richard Brandon and Elon Musk, who challenge the status quo with creative solutions.
- Tie your marketing content to a bigger picture of the world. Companies that matter focus beyond the buy/sell transactional worldview. They recognize and contribute to the interconnectedness of all moving parts of the market as it evolves in real life. It’s about relationships, communication, thought leadership, and social value contribution.
- Build a skilled team to design and develop what is needed. Your company can’t be a leader without providing a great solution, based on realistic market needs, and demonstrating an ability to execute. Building a solution and a company is not a solo exercise. Assemble the right people, and don’t forget to include real customer interaction.
- Incentivize your team to focus on the purpose rather than profit. Nothing motivates a team more than feeling that company success is a function of their contribution to a purpose and solving customer problems. This requires hiring people for their attitude as well as strengths, training them properly, and empowering them to make decisions.
- Be a leader for a positive future, rather than a follower. People want to see inspiration and commitment to a better tomorrow, as well as sources of better solutions today. This requires that you be a disruptor of the status quo, and proactively lean into complexity to align people, processes, and systems to turn current problems into new opportunities.
- Demonstrate, daily, your commitment to your purpose. Your team and customers watch your actions more than they listen to what you say. Your company has to be more than an inanimate brand – it has to come alive through people, starting at the top. People that matter take a long-term view and value the future of their customers.
- Seek out partnerships aligned with your purpose. Community partners should be aligned around a purpose they all explicitly share, such as eliminating world hunger. Additionally, all partners should clearly define their group’s benefit for involvement in the partnering endeavor. This will strengthen the message for all.
If your company consistently finds ways to add more value and drive higher-order customer needs, it will become the preferred choice in your targeted markets. Also, it will attract the best talent, the most customer loyalty, and provide greater personal satisfaction to you as well as to your team and your customers.
Even in today’s rapidly evolving economy driven by technology, the most successful companies lead with their purpose rather than their technology. It doesn’t matter what stage your business is in — the principles are the same. Start implementing these steps now before your competitors pass you by.