Purpose is the new Sex....
Because it sells.
Modern marketers understand the need to build communities of loyal advocates.
Sex is still the old sex but what makes purpose perhaps even sexier is it sells internally as well as externally. More often that not though (and for that very reason) the purpose agenda is driven by the marketing department.
Good marketers understand the need to build communities of loyal advocates. "Growth from Within" (as I call it) is the most effective and efficient form of marketing - in essence it means transforming your customers into loyal customers and then into your most potent salesforce.
Boards often reject the purpose agenda as fluffy nonsense because it often comes from marketing and not HR. The fools!
However, it is unfortunate that the marketing department usually drives purpose when it should really be driven by culture, and that comes from owners (or their representatives the board of directors), management and staff. It should come from the values of the business and their own motivations for existing.
Unfortunately when marketing comes up with the purpose idea, instead of management or HR, it is often dismissed by boards as fluffy nonsense. The fools! Or, they see it as an external brand exercise only, thus demonstrating a misunderstanding of what brand is - although I suppose they are thinking beyond logos which is a small mercy.
Increasingly business is taking the lead with purpose and finding new ways to demonstrate it beyond sitting up a foundation and donating money or sponsoring a charitable event. You now have B Corps (business doing or being good to all their stakeholders), Shared Value (business in partnership with charities beyond just finances solving some big social issues), social enterprises and so on.
The recent Purpose event in Sydney (hosted by the wonderfully innovative team at Wildwon) showcased a varied bunch of local and international purpose with profit driven, businesses who are both growing their market share, challenging (i.e. disrupting) the status quo, creating meaningful employment and attracting lots of talented people.
My own manifestation of purpose came last year when I co-founded, with the always optimistic Warwick Peel, XY on Boards. Our mission is to empower and connect the next generation of board directors (XY meaning Generations X & Y/Millenials not the male chromosome) and advocate for that extra bit of diversity. We are n0w well on our way building a community of amazingly gifted existing and aspiring directors from ages 20 to 50. The ones that have really leaned in and taken the path that our Board Kickstarter Program shows them are experiencing great success.
Deep down though we want to see the purpose agenda driven from the top and judging by the crowd at the Purpose event, who better than the next generation who are driven by something deeper than their career, status, or simply given back after a long career of creating wealth for shareholders (of course there's nothing wrong with that if it was created ethically).
So, what can you take away from my new year's blog...
- If you are a purpose driven marketer in a business lacking some, cosy up to HR and sell them on the internal cultural benefits AND then team up to take it to the CEO/Board.
- If you are a board director and want to save money, take a look at purpose, Growth from Within and invite some new perspectives and mindsets into the boardroom. You could start with an advisory board if you are a bit scared of younger people!
- If you using purpose as a sales tool only, enjoy it whilst it lasts, your inauthenticity will out.
- If you are a purpose driven business, then I tip my hat to you, you are my inspiration and (hopefully) the future of business!
Paul Smith, co-founder and CEO of Future Directors Institute, helps empower and connect the next generation of board directors. He is Chair of the Jane Goodall Institute Australia and a director of several start-ups. To learn more about the Future Directors Institute and how they are helping hundreds of next generation leaders make an impact in the boardroom, visit www.futuredirectors.com.au