Purpose driven marketing isn’t an excuse to talk about yourself

There’s a lot of research https://strategicdiscipline.positioningsystems.com/bid/78338/Grow-Author-Jim-Stengel-Great-Leadership-Follow-Common-Practices and an avalanche of blogs and vlogs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4 supporting the idea of purpose-driven marketing. Of the effectiveness of standing for something. Having a why. A higher ideal beyond just making profit. But there’s a trap. And a lot of marketers fall into it.


Standing for something doesn’t mean it’s time to start talking about yourself.


When the new trends come along it’s always smart to remember the old lessons too. And use the best of both worlds.


The old rule is: People aren’t interested in you; they’re interested in themselves.

So how do you stand for something and not make it about yourself?

Easy. Just don’t make it about the you bit, make it about the stand for bit.


Here’s one of my favourite examples on how to do this well:


It’s extremely clear what Puma stands for, but they don’t mention themselves once. It’s all about their audience. (And of course, this campaign sold a crapload of shoes.)

Here’s one of the O.G. examples: 

Again, very clear what Dove stands for but they don’t talk about themselves at all other than the logo. (And yes, it sold tons of soap.)

Here are some tips, thoughts and no-no’s:

if it contains the phrase “At such and such corporation, we believe in….” or even if it contains the word “we” at all, it’s probably no good.

Have you ever met someone who just talks about themselves? Does it make you want to give them your money? Probably not.

What about if someone expresses a passion for something really important to you? You probably wouldn’t hand over your wallet but you’re definitely more likely to want to spend some time together—and maybe even hand over some money at some point.

Turning the conversation to be about your audience instead of yourself is just the start. The next old rule is to be interesting. Think of the most interesting way to involve your audience. The two examples I showed couldn’t be more different in execution. But both are very interesting to the audience. So explore all the different ways to be interesting.

Brands who stand for something are driving the ad industry forward. Good ads that makes those brands famous will have an even more positive impact. Our purpose at ZGM is to help good organizations make a greater mark on the world. That applies to you and your brands too. Remembering the rules of good ads will help your brand make a greater mark on the world. Torch officially passed.


New Webinar!
How to express purpose: it’s not me, it’s you.

Tuesday April 27, 9 am MST

Brands who stand for something are driving the ad industry forward. But standing for a greater purpose is not permission to talk about yourself at the expense of engaging your audience.Join Kurt Beaudoin (ZGM's Director of Storytelling) and Dan King (President & Partner) as we explore how to effectively translate your organizational purpose into your brand creative.


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