12 Steps to Nailing Purpose Driven Marketing (With Examples)
OK “hi there”! So you might’ve arrived here because you’re a bit tired of how marketing is usually done. You’re looking for new ways to think about it. That’s good! Or you are just getting into marketing and wondering how you can use it to work with a deeper cause or purpose. That’s good too! Or you are just lost and stumbled into this dark and gloomy little tavern of a blog post. That’s… I don’t know how to feel about that one. Whichever way, I will try to take you on a little whirl here to see how these two mighty stallions (Purpose and Marketing) can become best friends (in 12 steps). But before that, we will first take a look at what purpose driven marketing is and why you should even do it.
What is Purpose Driven Marketing?
So what really is purpose driven marketing – i mean really. I mean really, really (Ok, I’m gonna stop this). Well, that depends who you ask silly! Let’s start with the purpose of marketing. If you Google “What is the purpose of marketing”, the first result tells us it’s “to generate revenue for a brand, company, or organization”. Well, I guess that settles it then. WRONG!
I imagine that since you’re exploring what purpose and marketing have to do with each other the above definition might be too narrow. Generating revenue is certainly the traditional purpose of marketing. However, my feeling is that nowadays people and companies want more from their marketing than just this. So marketing’s purpose is becoming broader. Especially for companies that have a deeper purpose or social cause (purpose driven organisations, NGOs, social enterprises) marketing needs to have a deeper purpose too.
If we look at what goes into marketing these days – content creation, design, social media, advertising – then I wouldn’t want “generating revenue” to be the north star for the effort put into those, I’d want it to be about much more than that.
Purpose-Driven Marketing vs Cause Related Marketing
The definition of purpose driven marketing is marketing which serves a deeper purpose. It’s linked to cause related marketing in that both are about serving some kind of social change. Essentially, there’s no real difference, except that a “cause” points outwards to something that you do whereas purpose points more inward towards your own “Why”. Purpose is about finding what your reason for existing is and why you wake up in the morning.
Why do Purpose Driven Marketing?
You might be asking yourself now – why should brands engage in purpose-driven marketing? There are many way to answer this, but here are a few:
- It’s no longer a choice. There’s now too much awareness that things need changing and that companies can help contribute to that positive change. There are many social causes both globally and right on our doorsteps, and companies do have a lot of power to make things better.
- Purposeful work is becoming a bigger topic. We now know that contributing towards a purpose increases flow and engagement for employees. Moreover, one study finds that 80% of college graduates report the important of finding purpose in their work, while less than half succeed.
- Customers want to know their company is engaging in genuine CSR initiatives. Indeed, a study by Cone Communications and Echo Global found “91 percent of consumers want to hear about companies’ CSR efforts and progress.” Moreover, the 2020 Strength of Purpose study by Zeno Group found that when consumers think a brand have a strong purpose, they are four times more likely to purchase from them.
- Marketing can be a force for good. Marketing isn’t going anywhere, and it’s an essential part of running any kind of organisation. There’s a growing sense that we need to do marketing more consciously to bring out the more of the good stuff.
How Do You Do Purpose Driven Marketing?
Above is our model of purpose based marketing. It draws on Integral Theory to bring more depth to the marketing that we do.
I would say that by focusing only on clicks and conversions, marketing can get very meaningless very quickly. It is, however, extremely effective – you can bring a lot of customers to your doorstep. One the other hand, those working in organisations that focus more on purpose and values can often find that there’s a lack of data and a lack of effectiveness. This can be summarised as: clicks in themselves are meaningless and a purpose statement in itself doesn’t change anything.
So we don’t want to throw away using big data and good marketing techniques. We rather want to combine it with a deeper understanding of our purpose in order to bring the biggest impact. This then becomes about impact marketing or marketing for impact.
Using the diagram above, doing marketing properly means combining interior quadrants (Purpose, values, et.c) together with exterior quadrants (clicks, conversions, etc) in order to bring the depth of an organisation’s purpose to the world. To do this, it needs to take account of everything on the left side of the 4 quadrants – perspective, values, voice, culture, audience and customers. It also needs to realise those using the tools and realities of the right hand quadrants – marketing campaigns, advertisements, copywriting, visuals, traffic, clicks, marketing channels, automation and the right tools and software.
I would argue that the definition above of “generating revenue” only takes into consideration the upper right (IT) quadrant, but misses the rest.
Simon Sinek and The Why
So how the jimminy crickets do you go beyond just generating revenue? The short answer is: spend more time on WHY.
As Simon Sinek has noted in his various books and talks, getting to the WHY behind your company is as, or more, important than understanding the WHAT and the HOW. Sinek believes that in communicating the WHY you reach the human being’s limbic brain rather than the neocortex, and he believes that this is how some companies can greatly inspire and generate deep trust and loyalty.
The point is to take care of all: the why, what and how or in other words, taking care of all 4 quadrants.
Purpose Marketing in 12 Steps
By taking care of all quadrants, we can have the deepest, most meaningful impact with our marketing. Above, we’ve combined our key areas of concern for marketing with Integral’s 4 quadrants and with meta integral’s map of impact. In doing so, we bring back in the WHY (the purpose) into marketing and get the most out of all 4 quadrants.
Caring for the Interiors: I & WE
The interiors are what’s often left out in marketing – it’s all clicks and conversions! But the interiors keep you on course with your values and your purpose. It helps you to feel if something is ok or not, and it’s what lets you go to sleep at night content and wake up in the morning looking forward to work. If you can really stand behind what you do, then that’s powerful.
In marketing, we’ve found the best way to keep the interiors involved is to start out with a strong foundation and then keep checking in. Start with a group call, group whiteboard session and really get down to what matters. And then check in after each month of work and see if what you’ve created still resonates with what you and your community cares about. If it doesn’t why not? And how can you change course?
Upper Left: My interior experience
The upper left is about what I experience. In marketing, this means coming back to things like purpose, values and voice. By paying attention to these things we ensure that what we put out into the world is fresh and aligned with what we truly think, feel and experience. This also ties into doing authentic marketing, aka make the outside (what you say) match the inside (what you think).
1. WHY, Purpose.
So we suggest starting with the WHY of your company. Why do you exist? What makes you get up in the morning and what do you do that is really, really important. This is a whole other blog post in itself, but finding your purpose can come from: having deeper discussions with your team members; coaching; reflecting; and even playing. A good place to start is to get everyone together with a whiteboard and start throwing out some ideas about what people care about.
You can also look at your company values. What are the things that you as an individual care about? What do your employees and team members care about? How do those relate to what your organisation does. Again, getting these together on a whiteboard or having a team coaching session can be a great way to start with this.
Knowing how you want to share your message is really important. A lot of purpose-driven organisations and social causes have a very clear sense of their purpose and yet lack voice. Here it can be useful to go through a brand voice exercise and create a brand voice document or brand book. What organisations nail their voice? Who inspires you and who do you want to be like? You should try and answer not just how you say things but what are the conversations you’re part of, what is the unique perspective that you bring?
Lower Left: The WE space
The lower left is about what we experience. It is about culture and relationships. Within marketing, this means checking in about the people we’re involved with and if the relationships are working.
Understanding your culture as an organisation can help to bring out what you want to share with the world. How do you operate in your teams? What are the relationships like? What is the way of relating that you want to share with the world?
5. Audience & Community
An important part of marketing is understanding your audience. Personas and customer profiles are a good way to do this and doing some research on who your audience are. The important thing with purpose driven marketing is making sure that you treat your audience members as subjects rather than objects. Get into their hearts and minds and understand what they truly want and don’t want.
Marketing goes beyond the point of sale, especially for purpose driven organisations. Happy customers spread the word about your business, so it’s important to make sure your customers are truly happy. A good way of doing this is to ask for feedback, create a survey and to simply ask your customers in a meeting.
Maximising Impact with Exteriors: IT & ITS
While we gave the exteriors a little bit of a dressing down earlier, we don’t want to shoo them away! They’re equally as important to the whole equation as the interiors, just that they need to be balanced with the interior qualities of e.g. purpose, values, people.
In purpose driven marketing, the exteriors are about bringing the biggest impact with your unique purpose and bringing that purpose to the world. It’s one thing to have a great and inspiring raison d’etre (excuse my French) but if no one hears about it then a) it’s a shame and b) you don’t bring in enough revenue to keep the ship afloat.
Upper Right: The stuff I do
The upper right is about what I do. This is where most marketeers hang out and do their thang. It’s about the action, what are the concrete things we do and make. Most blog posts in marketing are indeed about techniques, strategy, ad examples and this is what people search for most too, which shows how important getting these things right is.
7. Marketing Campaigns, Tactics and Techniques
The campaigns we create contain the actual “stuff” that we put out there into the world. It’s the action that we take in getting our purpose out there. What strategic areas do you want to focus on? Within each service that we do (e.g. SEO, PPC, Content) what are the specific tactics and techniques that we think are of the utmost urgency. These things can often be less sexy than the interiors, but can be more impactful. E.g. if we know that cleaning up our link profile will most quickly bring in revenue through SEO, perhaps we do that before our sexy content campaign.
8. Ads, Copy and Visuals
Your purpose is communicated through the media that you put out on the web. This is where your cause or purpose becomes crystallised into a form you like. It’s important here to get the visual look and feel right for visual items, and for written items get the topics, tone and style right. Using brand guidelines help here, and you could also check out our guide on purpose drive content. Keeping an eye on what content is working and resonating with your audience should also help guide you. A/B test and see what message actually has an impact. It can be that your original message needs to be translated in order to reach your audience.
9. Traffic, Clicks and Conversions
The both revered and the hated clicks. While I’m wary of reducing everything to clicks, it’s also vitally important to measure the business impact of your efforts, choose the right metrics and optimise what you do accordingly. If you have a strong purpose but nobody ends up using your service, you don’t have the fuel (money) to keep your dream alive. So focussing on improving conversions is a necessary part of the whole. There are so many metrics so choose 1 key metric per goal you’re working on and track improvement on that metric. For SEO, it might be average ranking position for your target keywords while for PPC it might be ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).
Lower Right: The Space We Inhabit
Within marketing, the lower right essentially means the space we inhabit, or where we actually do the stuff of marketing: the tools, the software, the platforms and marketing channels. Making the right choice here can massively free up time and energy, which can be used to more effectively realise your purpose.
10. Marketing Channels
Where oh where are your audience spending their time? We’re thoroughly inside an attention economy at the moment and part of your marketing task is to know where your audience is and to choose the right marketing channels. The internet is becoming more dispersed in terms of where time is being spent, so it’s good to really analyse which platforms to work with. For instance, within social: Bing is largely older Americans, while Ecosia is for the sustainably minded.
There be robots! So much has now been automated that it’s really a matter of just finding the right automation to suit your business. If you get your automations right, this can free up much more human creativity to be used on other things like content and strategy.
12. Tools & Systems
The amount of (amazing) software to choose from is increasing at an astounding rate. The feats that can be performed with tools is unbelievable. Harnessing the correct ones for your business can really make what you do click, and can make your marketing run like a well oiled machine. Review lists of the best software for specific needs and ask around to your network what everyone uses, the good ones normally get rave reviews.
Purpose Driven Marketing Examples
I wanted to give some examples here of marketing that fits with the type of purpose marketing we’re promoting here. On search the web for cause related marketing examples, a lot of in-your-face campaigns come through. I wanted to show some examples where it seems like real care and responsibility for the kind of impact has been at the forefront.
Neurohacker Collective has some of the most good marketing I’ve come across. It’s good in the sense that it clearly aligns with their purpose of “creating best in class well-being products by employing a unique methodology to research and development based on complex systems science.” They manage to have impact through their marketing (they educate people) and engage their community in the discussion. In the example above they provide a really interesting quote, which is backed up by further text and the link to the original research. Often there’s a podcast episode to learn more, and they engage thoughtfully with their community in the comments. The articles and podcasts come with expert knowledge and are well researched. And they reach a lot of people! In a nutshell, all four quadrants are working here. My personal opinion is that even if you took away this marketing’s ability to bring in customers, it has real value in and of itself.
Patagonia is another brand that uses marketing which aligns with their purpose. Their mission statement is “we’re in business to save our home planet” and this comes out through their marketing too. Above are some of the many films they produce for social media, which discuss issues for the planet and suggest ways to be involved. Their second menu item on their website is “Activism”, and scrolling through the website you can see how their interiors (Why, values, voice) are integrated throughout what they put on the web.
Oatly‘s marketing is just genius. Their mission statement is “to make it easy for people to turn what they eat and drink into personal moments of healthy joy without recklessly taxing the planet’s resources in the process.” Oatly has used an anti-marketing approach and a humorous tone to get across a serious message around using the planet’s resources. The brand is incredibly successful and is now valued at $2 billion. Oatly has a powerful sense of purpose in that it knows what its “Why” is, and communicates that to its customers in a way that resonates with all kinds of people. With Oatly, we can see how the right expression of it’s interiors can lead to very wide success (purchasers from all walks of life) while still remaining true to itself.
Marketing normally doesn’t hold a huge place for purpose or values. We often get lost in the actual doing of marketing (the What) and we forget about the Why, and this can make your work meaningless.
Doing purpose driven marketing means taking the time to look within (as a company) and to know what really makes you tick (looking at the interior quadrants). Once you have a sense of these, you can then bring them out to the world using marketing tools that spread the word to the largest audience. Caring for both these sides of the equation helps to have a marketing campaign that feels authentic and which makes an impact. And that’s worth something!