Purpose, or ‘why we do what we do’, is the unique core of your business. It’s the intangible but meaningful positioning that leads people to choose between you and another company selling the same product or service. All businesses will be able to tell you ‘what’ they do, and many will be able to tell you ‘how’ they do it. Few, however, will be able to tell you ‘why’.
But the ‘why’ is so important to a business as defining what you stand for allows people – customers and staff – to ‘align’ themselves to you.
- It explains more holistically the role you play in society and what emotional benefits you deliver.
- It helps distinguish you from competitors and makes it clear to customers how you can fit into their lives.
- It explains, ultimately, why they need you.
This insightful TED talk from Simon Sinek explains the importance of purpose and the biological reasons behind how it influences purchase decisions and customer loyalty.
Big businesses (like Apple in Simon’s example) have been doing this well for a while, and the necessity of having an identifiable purpose is becoming more and more apparent. A case in point, Samsung Electronics became Creative Marketer of the Year at Cannes this year after their conscious shift away from saying: “Here is a product, this is how it works, now buy it.” Instead, Samsung spent the last year using its campaigns to explore the impact of its products on people’s lives around the world.
‘Improving communication’ has become their purpose, and all their marketing and innovation supports this goal. The creation of a smart phone app helping autistic children communicate better with their parents, for example, or an app designed to help Arab children who spend much of their time speaking English to learn their native language. Instead of offering up empty advertising clichés they are amplifying their core purpose through single-minded messaging and backing it up with actions.
This is the power of purpose. And it’s just as important for small businesses and entrepreneurs as multinationals. We all need a focus, and we all want to feel that what we do is for more than just money. Find your purpose and you will find one of the most valuable assets for your business!
We recently had the pleasure of working with Ian Hacon from Yellow Brick Road, who gave a terrific presentation about ‘purpose’ and the value in identifying it for your business.