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Find your North Star through purpose-based marketing

September 17, 2019

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Ric Williams
Written By
Ric Williams

Back when I was a wee lad, bright eyed and bushy tailed, completing my graduate degree in management while working in the marketing department of National Foods in Australia, I seemingly read every management book that was released. Everything from Ricardo Semler to Kotler and beyond, they all talked about features and benefits marketing and how to do it better than your neighbour.

The business books talked about Corporate Mission, Vision and Values. The combination of the latter gave us our North Star on where we want our businesses to go. It seemed like the business management books didn’t really talk to the marketing books other than product marketing strategy, how to measure your cows and your dogs and the 4, 5, 7, or 9 P’s of marketing.

Fast forward 25 years and here we are at a time of purpose based marketing. We finally got our collective s*&^ together and marketing has a seat at the big boy table. Where marketing helps organizations to understand their North Star, the smart guys we are all reading now, Stengel, Mike EdmondsSinek, HBR and agencies like Meer Cats and ZGM have matched marketing your why/purpose/promise with mission, vision and values and products to form not only better advertising but a better overall company direction. We are winning against the big 5 consultancies because we get communicating emotional content to customers and not just the boardroom. The big 5 are buying us up

ZGM have had success in this arena, working with multiple clients getting them back to their purpose. We're helping them to focus their product and services offerings based on it. If you believe in your purpose then we should do things that relate and are driven by it, not just a statement on the wall. Then helping those organizations to communicate why they do things through the products and services they offer. This is actually harder than it sounds on two fronts. Existing products and services don’t necessarily align with the immediately obvious messaging of your purpose. Secondly, corporate actions are sometimes in conflict with the North Star. Let's talk about those individually.

 

Product and Service marketing of the existing business


In our early days of this work, we stumbled a couple of times. We got to the purpose by working with founders and internal and external stakeholders to understand why the corporation are in business and what that means to their customers and more importantly their staff. Then we came up with campaigns that were awareness and brand lead that talked to purpose but "We have a bunch of products that we already have in market and they are really good, how does this help us to communicate and sell those things better than before?” was the cry.

Taking everyone back to the basic premise that customers more and more buy into why you do things, rather than just what you do is where we start. We also needed to remember that selling stuff still pays the bills, including ours. Understanding your customer and the market in which you are selling or changing behaviour, or in a new business, attracting people who have the same beliefs as you from the get go, will make you a more successful business in the long run. Lying to consumers to get them to buy your products, or continually going on sale to drive foot traffic are both short term strategies that erode brand value. They may buy your CEO 6 months to 2 years, but truly successful companies are those that market to the core beliefs of their consumers, that also align with their mission, vision and values. It is wholistic. 

This is where we take a short term and long term approach. In the short term, you need to sell your existing products/services and sometimes when we get to your north star, those existing products don’t necessarily align. (we believe that this is why products and services aren’t always successful, compromises have been made in their development that don't give them strong enough USP’s to win in today’s highly competitive market). Our short term approach utilizes your north star as the guide, the truth as a basis and USP’s and emotional benefits to create strong advertising that your identified target market will buy. Rohit Communities is a great example of this, we worked with them to get to a North Star for the corporation and we put together a great campaign based on their Designer interiors products, which has been hugely successful for them. Take a look at our Rohit Communities Case Study.

 

Corporate Responsibility


The founders of the organization/brand often have a purpose in mind when they started the company, Ritzon talks to the original Cadbury purpose in bashing Cadbury’s latest efforts.  Mark talks globally about bringing the world together and applauds the campaign. But rightly, in my personal opinion, he has a go at their corporate efforts in reducing their tax bill. Thus denying the UK public of a couple of hospitals or better low income housing (their original founder’s goal), because they don’t pay their fair share of corporate tax in the UK. As much of our consumption first world audiences have moved beyond just getting products and services to survive, they really do care more about why the company does what they do. Don’t think that in today’s 'www' world consumers won’t find out about what you do corporately and ignore it. 

We also believe corporate communications can help. Getting in and helping the C-suite to look at corporate practices that align with the purpose and helping to manage outward and inward communications surrounding corporate actions is now becoming our work too. Helping organizations correct their corporate practices in behind the purpose will help in the long run. Nike’s sweat shop, Apple’s worker suicides, Cadbury’s taxation and other corporate issues will harm brand affinity. It will also undermine purpose based marketing efforts unless you take them seriously and want to change the way you do things to align. We can’t help you to change corporate process and procedures. We can, however, help with messaging inline with your purpose to help you to not get caught up in social media and press coverage that undermines all the good work you are doing with your product and services development and advertising to promote them. Hopefully this helps to shape the organization back to its original focus, making the world a better place.

 

The go forward. Products and services of companies come from somewhere. More often than not, market opportunity or a better way to do things creates a passion to make life better, creating products and services that are better than anyone else or disrupting whole industries.  They also have meaning and a reason for being - not just market share and shareholder value (translate this to top line sales), it is the other way around. Getting back to why, aligning products and services that align and then communicating that with your audience will be far more successful in the long term than promoting because you need to show growth to the street or to your bank balance.

 

A reminder that we are holding a webinar this month to talk more about Brand and Purpose.

Access Webinar

 

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