Motivational speaker BS aside, without a purpose, we humans struggle. No matter how big or small the purpose, we need that imaginary final level in the game. Without it, anxiety hangs around, motivation is a myth, personal growth stagnates, and so on. The same goes for a company. Every company needs a purpose. And yes, it needs to be beyond making money.
In 2021 and beyond, the heartless, soulless company will not survive. Nobody will want to buy from it and nobody will want to work for it.
The pandemic hitting all of us and changing the game was the defining moment when what had been brewing in society for a while came bubbling and frothing its way to the top at an incredible speed. Huge portions of society everywhere are seriously concerned about the obsession of growth and consumption that runs riot in our society, and are wanting change.
Companies need to be the drivers of that change if they’re looking to drive their way into the future. And they shouldn’t just talk the talk, they need to walk the walk.
That’s the message of this post number one: If your strategy as a company is to talk about sustainability while continuing to practice unsustainable business, your customer and audience will hear the echoes in your hollow claims.
The audience of today have the most finely tuned bullshit detectors ever seen. They navigate their way through hundreds of pieces of content a day, and their BS detectors do them well in helping them, within seconds, sort the BS from the substance and what resonates the real.
Like us humans, our companies need to talk about the purpose they’re driven by.
And they should do so on a regular basis. A lot of the content marketing game is about telling your company’s story that makes it unique. Again, at least partially what makes it unique should be that it considers the environment and society before itself.
The last couple of years of doomsday news has made a lot of people and companies reflect. As corny as it sounds, they’re reflecting on what’s important.
Your communication strategy should put purpose first, and what you’re selling second
We’ll save you the statistics, but we will invite you to Google numbers from hundreds of surveys stating that people are buying and engaging with companies they identify with, relate to and share the same belief system with. This is a beautiful evolution happening in our capitalist system right now. People power is proving it can change the system by changing their buying behaviour.
People want to buy from companies that have values. These values should not simply feature on their website in pretty infographics that tickle our eyeballs, but they should tickle our trust that this company is the real deal.
I sat in on a talk by Lucas Conte, Executive Director Strategy & CX at Serviceplan at the Forward Festival which quoted Credit Suisse’s Annual Wealth Report that stated 4 Trillion US-Dollars will be changing from one generation to the other until 2025. This will see Gen Z – the generation that is understandably suffering from all varieties of anxiety about the future – jump into the driver’s seat.
This generation, plus millenials and those zellinials in between, are more attracted to companies that have a mission, a purpose larger than themselves. They also hate advertising.
And as Conte also quoted in his talk – ‘ If brands want to remain viable in the future they have to embrace the direction young people want to go, which is away from throwaway culture.’ – Graham Forbes, Greenpeace
Advertising is when you put what you sell in the foreground and say to your consumer, ‘Buy this as it will make your life better.’ A company publishing content is like saying to your consumer, ‘We hear you and we believe in the same thing as you do.’
We don’t need to tell you which is more likely to capture the attention of the Gen Ad-blocker.
The ‘sustainability’ purpose is a resounding one
Only a few years ago, Sustainability was a claim to fame that you’d hear only a few companies throwing out there. In 2021, social media’s been painted green with brand’s sustainability messaging.
We’re actually already in the next evolution – well, the companies that are keeping up – of the sustainability marketing trend in which companies are talking specifics.
The cries of greenwashing on social media directed at companies (the one good side of social media being so judgemental – it keeps companies honest) has pushed this evolution along.
Nowadays, your purpose-driven sustainability narrative on socials and beyond should be populated with posts that speak about specific things the company is doing to work towards a sustainable future. If you keep things general, expect to be called out.
The sole tip you need regarding your purpose-driven marketing – be authentic and accurate
A slight twitch develops in our left eye when we use the hackneyed word, ‘authentic,’ that has been hijacked as a marketing buzzword.
However, combine it with the word ‘accurate’ and you’ve got yourself a solid mantra to chant everytime you go to publish something about what your company believes in.
Be authentic in what your company’s purpose is – meaning everybody in the company should actually believe in it and its candor – and be accurate when communicating how your company is living up to its purpose.
When coming from a guy that practices content marketing for a living, all of the above may smell like one of the following adjectives – opportunistic, disingenuous, strategic, bullshit – however, I can assure you I’m being authentic and accurate… in this case.
It’s actually what our content marketing agency’s purpose is – to work with brands to create meaningful content.
There will always be marketing. We aim to help companies make meaningful content that their audiences want to spend their time with. This changes the whole marketing game.
It makes the whole marketing exchange between brands and their audiences a conversation. You publish content that is packed with messages that resonates with your audience and starts a conversation with them. This conversation feeds back into how you run your company, and also how you design your products and/ or services.
Besides being various brand’s cultural translator to produce meaningful content, the other purpose our content agency is driven by is enabling talented journalists and content creators to publish stuff that can change the world for the better.
In 2021, we are launching an investigative journalist foundation that is fed by a certain amount of our profits at the agency. Journalists in Central and Eastern Europe can apply for funds to fuel their investigative journalism projects.
We believe in the power of storytelling, and that getting stories of injustice out there matters more than ever.
This is our purpose. It defines this company’s DNA and it is this that propels us forward in wanting to get better at what we do on a daily basis.
Companies need to stop undervaluing their marketing departments.
They need to start seeing them as the company’s mouthpiece for the meaningful conversations they should be having with their audience. They should be including them in defining the purpose, and have them play a part in strategic decisions.
It’s time for purpose-driven marketing to take the place of achieving KPI targets in marketing meetings.
I will finish this on another quote from Lucas Conte himself (as this guy knows what he’s talking about more than I) –
‘Some brands can make a difference like never before. These are brands that matter. Brands that people in the real world are glad exist. Brands that fix a problem in the world.’