I’ve been reading an awesome book about leadership called “Turn the Ship Around!” written by former nuclear submarine commander L. David Marquet. In the beginning, Captain Marquet is given his first submarine, the Santa Fe, on which the crew had become notorious for poor morale, poor performance and the worst retention in their fleet. The story is a blow by blow account of how Captain Marquet turned a crew who had apparently ceased to care much into a motivated powerhouse of excellence where everyone took responsibility for their actions and finished with many of them deciding to stay put in the job!
So what did all that have to do with marketing?
Well, the thing that struck me was right at the beginning of the book. It was that Captain Marquet was very clear on his own purpose as the captain of a nuclear-powered submarine. He could articulate his “why” and tie it to the greater good – it was to defend and protect the freedoms enshrined by the US constitution.
He then engaged his crew by connecting them with their purpose, taking risks and giving them ownership of the vision. The ship became an award-winning vessel in the fleet, a place where everyone believed that they were making a difference and working effectively for the greater good.
The book shows how we are motivated by having a purpose linked to the greater good, at work as well as at play.
Larry Fink, CEO of Black-Rock wrote in his 2018 letter to CEOs,
“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society…without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential.”
So, in a nutshell, personal gain as a reason in itself for a company’s existence does not have longevity. It’s not just a marketing trend, we need to be able to answer the question “Why does our company exist?” The answer will direct all subsequent decision-making. Our ‘why’ must take people, purpose and the planet into account. The businesses already doing this report that customers view purpose-driven brands as being more caring and, as a result, are more loyal to them.
Just look at the long term success achieved by The Body Shop – you can’t argue with their longstanding appeal.
According to Deloitte, purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors, all while achieving a higher workforce and customer satisfaction.
Take Airbnb, as a more recent example. They not only provide great living spaces for less but are also committed to provide free short-term housing for 100,000 people in need and donate millions of dollars to the International Rescue Committee. Another is TOMS shoes, which combines purpose and profit by donating a second pair to someone in need when you buy one. Spending money with these companies connects you to a higher purpose, it’s about people.
Employees and customers all want to be part of something greater than themselves.
Having a purposeful ambition (and statement) to make society a better place will inspire, as long as it reflects in the company’s overall operations. Take IKEA, driven by “Helping millions of people worldwide improve their homes”. Their aim is reflected in their customer service, the straightforward instructions and ease of assemblage of items, attractive, simple and appealing designs, low prices and even in the low cost, on-site restaurants with free teas and coffees for members.
So, how do you go about making your company purpose-driven?
One approach to the problem is to become a B-Corp. 2,600 companies have taken this route which involves adopting a mandate to benefit all stakeholders and a commitment to submit to regular tests of social and environmental impact. Well known B-Corps include Patagonia, Gap subsidiary Athleta and Ben & Jerry’s. This is something Cre8ion are moving towards and you can start the process by using this questionnaire to get you ready.
Here are five ways to help you to reflect and find your underlying motivation.
Why did you quit?
If you started a business or took on a leadership role there was a reason why you left your last company. If it was for a pay rise, you’ll either want more money or you’ll leave again for the same reason. Was there an underlying reason for your dissatisfaction that you have not really considered? Was it injustice, unfairness, a lack of attention or maybe your suggestions for improvement were ignored?
What makes you celebrate?
What makes you fist pump when no one is looking? That nod to the mirror that you’ve ‘got this’. The thing that puts an extra spring in your step? Was it getting the sale, solving the problem, seeing a plan come off? Can you identify what kind of successes have made you feel the most elated?
How do you solve a problem?
Problems arise from purpose, people or process. Which one is it? If it’s purpose, a mission drift has caused decisions to be made outside of your objective. If it’s people, then the question is, how can you help? You could do the job better, but maybe you haven’t shown them how to do it. If the problem springs from the process, it’s not been communicated clearly enough, or been executed. Mistakes happen. Now, consider the way you enjoy solving the problem the most.
When is done, done?
When the client says, well done? When the customer feedback is amazing? When you know what ‘next’ is? You see, ‘having a purpose’ is thinking beyond one event. It’s about a cause greater than one generation. You can make an impact alone, but one superhero company will have less impact if they don’t collaborate with others to make it happen. Are you ready to collaborate to see longer-term benefits for everyone?
Who do you like working with the most?
We all have a preference. Think back to the projects you enjoyed most. Why was that? Is there a common audience or behaviour that inspires you and gets you in your flow? What gives you that buzz that tells you that you are making a difference? When you see the name pop up on your phone it’s not dread, its excitement. It’s not a punch to the gut, it’s a sense of adventure.
Now build out a mission statement with the cause you’ve been looking for at its heart. Here is the cause method.
C Call – The practical answer (Pioneering, Discover, Using)
A Ability – Your superpower (Advanced tech, creative, experience)
U Utilise – The action that delivers. (Decorate, Solve, Help)
S Solution – Impact measure (End hunger, speak truth, create wealth)
E Execute – Where in the world (Worldwide, UK, Europe)
Here is our Mission Statement:
A the media
U to create
S community impact
When you establish a cause, you’ll engage hearts, but first, it takes a deep dive into YOU before you can discover your WHO in detail.
If you think you might need some help articulating your purpose to resonate with your customers we’d love to help you. We specialise in helping companies to connect with purpose and engage the right enquiries. In a surprisingly short time, you’ll have it. Want to start the journey with someone that has helped hundreds of companies ‘get’ it? Book a free consultation today!