Article

The two reasons why Purpose matters in Business.

In short...

Remember your business’ purpose

It’s quite normal to become busy, get into a routine, rely on old habits… we are made this way.

We love to settle. We feel safer like this.

But I have observed how – after a while – becoming busy makes us forget the big picture and our intended direction.

Then the bad habits start… We fall back into doing what we’ve always done, we forget, our strategy becomes wobbly, the objectives become clouded and because of this the results are less than convincing. We basically stop challenging the status quo.

Then you start to wonder ‘why can’t I reach my objectives? Why didn’t this initiative work?’.

These are the symptoms of a lack of purpose. 

Purpose relates to your “why” as a business – the reason(s) your business exists. So, where there is a lack of purpose, or where the purpose is unclear, your business starts to become affected. As a result, slowly but surely, you begin to lose consistency and efficiency. 

Simon Sinek, the marketing guru who created the golden circle model – which I highly recommend you Google – said it well. I quote: “People don’t buy what you do or how you do it, they buy why you do it.” 

Let your purpose permeate your business

Purpose should be the spark that sets off everything you do. As Sinek explains:

“Every decision should be looked at in terms of purpose. Some decisions may be purpose-neutral. But purpose is certainly not just a marketing issue or positioning of your brand image. Purpose should impact every aspect of the firm.”

A lack of purpose will also impact the motivation of your team and those working with you. Without a clear vision and mission, motivation fades away. This is why it is vital for your purpose to permeate through your business clearly and effectively. 

For you, as a manager, this not only means being clear on the purpose yourself, but also ensuring your team has absolute clarity as to what the purpose is and how it pertains to them and their work.

Spend one day with a young kid and you’ll get it; they have an eager, curious mind that is constantly questioning. And their principal question is ‘WHY.’ 

As we get older, this question remains as we still need a purpose to wake up and get out of bed every morning.

Even if we remain irrational, emotional beings, every move and every decision we take is intuitively led by a motive. We need motives to take action – and that’s the first important reason why you need a purpose to run your business.

Sharing a common purpose

The second reason your business requires a purpose is one of humans’ greatest needs: the need to belong.

Humans need to belong and create relationships. We need to be connected to other people. 

The need to belong is instinctual and forms a crucial part of our wellbeing throughout our lives. 

We achieve more and are more successful when we work as a team. I can’t resist quoting my favourite two of the many famous sayings which illustrate this point:

  • Stronger together
  • Two heads are better than one

When our need to belong is not being met, we experience psychological discomfort.

Belonging can enrich our sense of identity and provide us with security. Connections we make – such as those with friends, family, co-workers, or community groups – can help us by fulfilling this basic desire.

If you’re wondering how your company can help people to belong, it’s actually pretty straightforward: by sharing the same purpose, a common goal. I’ll give you some examples…

Firstly, whilst reading Mark Schaefer’s fantastic book, Marketing Rebellion, I discovered some figures that speak for themselves:

  • 50% of heavy social media users thought it was important to receive recognition from friends online. But more than 60% said it was essential to be recognized by a favorite brand online.

Yes, having the virtual acceptance of a beloved brand online is more important to them than having the internet acceptance of a friend – isn’t that crazy?!

A classic everyday sign of this is people sporting logos on their clothes, cars or anything else that gives them this opportunity to demonstrate a deep-rooted connection to a brand. These symbols are a simple way to foster belonging.

Another thing you can Google is “Nike tattoo”. Have you seen how many people have the trademark ‘swoosh’, ‘Just Do It’ slogan or Nike sneakers tattooed on their body? Nike is a tribe.

Lastly, how many stickers have you got on your computer? And why did you put them there…? Do you see what I’m getting at?

Brands with a clearly defined purpose

By now you’ve probably got the idea, so let’s go through some examples of businesses/brands with a purpose:

  • Nike: to unite the world through sport to create a healthy planet, active communities, and an equal playing field for all
  • Facebook: “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”
  • PayPal: “To build the Web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution”
  • Tesla: “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible”
  • Sony: “To be a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity”
  • Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”
  • Dove: Achieving ‘real beauty’ and encouraging women to love themselves
  • Patagonia: Inspiring and implementing sustainability in the outdoor industry
  • Crayola: Fostering creativity in children
  • Coca-Cola: Spreading and sharing happiness.

See how their mission statements and core values, as conveyed to customers, are neatly tailored to inspire a sense of purpose?

Each of these companies knows who they are and why they do what they do. Success is not an accident – it is part of a strategic plan. It takes effort, creativity, teamwork and purpose to accomplish. 

Clear messaging and a common purpose

I’m convinced purpose is on its way to becoming the ultimate differentiator in business. Not just for our customers, but also for our colleagues, contractors, providers, etc. 

When you define your purpose, you explore your vision, your mission, and choose your core values. This is the heart of your company culture.

Each decision and every move that is made in your business will be led by this purpose, offering a clear and consistent message, driving your teams towards the same well-defined objectives. It will attract your best customers and your best collaborators because you will share a common purpose.

So before you start your next marketing campaign, first take the time to define your why. Maybe you’re not a CEO and someone else defines the WHY for your company. But, if this is the case, there are solutions available to you:

  • Ask your boss and speak to the management if the purpose of your company is not clear to you. It’s a legitimate question; they will appreciate your commitment.
  • Or, start on your own with the elements you already have! Present your vision and ideas. The management will value you taking action! And there is a high chance you’ll inspire them to take further steps.

It takes courage but, don’t worry – I’ve got your back – and once you’re clear how your strategic goals and business plan align with your purpose, you’ll find it both fulfilling and empowering!

In a future episode of my podcast, People & Digital, we will examine the different steps to building a vision, a mission and selecting the core values for your brand, your products or your services.

The marketing of your product or service will be positively impacted, and you will soon start to think about building a community! A business with purpose is one that attracts people more naturally. It promotes curiosity organically where it is an intrinsic part of the organizational culture.

To recap…

Purpose relates to your “Why” as a business.

Purpose is fundamental for people, motivating them to take action and fulfil their need to belong.

Purpose is about to become the ultimate differentiator in business. Those with a clearly defined purpose ingrained in their corporate culture should find it brings them a profitable, competitive advantage. 

A purpose will make your company more ‘human’ to customers and collaborators. It shows integrity and allows them to align themselves with your core values.

And, as Mark Schaeffer claims in his book, in the end, the most human company wins.

I hope you’re now convinced you need a clear purpose for your business, your brand, your products or services, and are left with a sense of optimism.

If you have questions, comments, or if you want to share your actual challenges with me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We can discuss them and find solutions together. I’m here to help you.

Amélie Beerens

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