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Compounding the impact of your purposeful business

A purposeful business has a reason, beyond profit, to exist. It endeavours to make a tangible difference in their customers’ lives and to make a positive impact in the world and environment.

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70% of consumers say it’s important for brands to take a stand on social and political issues, up from 66% in 2017.
SocialSprout, 2020 #BrandsGetReal survey

The same message comes across in survey after survey: customers increasingly want businesses that do good for people and planet. They want businesses to put their head up over the parapet to promote change, work with others, and lead by example.

A purposeful business has a reason, beyond profit, to exist. It endeavours to make a tangible difference in customers’ lives and to make a positive impact in the world and environment.

My business is helping other businesses articulate and announce their purpose through truly purposeful marketing. We work out how to communicate why the business exists, what their people know they are there to do, and what positive difference they want to make to people and planet.

Sometimes this can seem daunting. The climate crisis is a huge global issue; what can one business or individual do to make a difference?

Some issues are systemic – like climate change and loss of biodiversity – and need a system wide response. Systems thinking recognises that everything is connected; while a single business won’t be able to effect change at a systems level, it can still understand where it ‘fits’ and commit to contributing to change alongside others.

Rest assured you are not alone; many of your clients, customers and partners want to make a difference too.

The issue for purposeful businesses is how best to connect and join with their customers, clients and partners to amplify or compound the impact they make.

Followers, and leaders

Some businesses lead, some businesses follow. A business can certainly galvanise a movement by offering up the power of their brand and their messaging for customers and partners to coalesce around. We saw this particularly during the Black Lives Matter Campaign where a number of multi-nationals added their support to the cause, following rather than leading.

For other businesses, the movement for change (social or environmental) is central to their business model. From their founding, Patagonia has committed to “use business to protect nature”; Social Bites sandwich shops have fought to address homelessness, inspired by their very first employee. ‘Making a difference’ is a thread that runs through the origin story and every initiative these companies have undertaken since. They don’t do it alone. They recruit employees, customers, supply chains, partners, foundations, followers and neighbours to help.

How to compound your impact

Once you are committed to building a purposeful business, there are lots of ways you can compound your impact to contribute to visible change. Here are a few things to consider:

Connect with your customers and clients, engage them in the conversation, with strong and compelling messaging and build your movement.

Invite them to join in and actively support the cause, not just through purchase of your product or service, but by promoting action and engagement.

Partner with those closest to you, your supply chain, your investors, those you work with and alongside, and search out opportunities to work together to achieve impact around a shared vision or passion for change.

Establish new partnerships with likeminded organisations – other businesses, education institutions, third sector and community organisations who share your passion and vision for change.

Collaborate and innovate, working together with others to trigger new ideas and new ways of realising your impact. This could lead to shared support for initiatives in your supply chain, product development, and co-promotion and marketing initiatives.

Review your own business model. Is everything you do, and the way that you do it, aligned with delivering your purpose? From the way you produce and deliver products, to the way you monitor and report your impact, there may be more you could be doing to accelerate change.

Measure your impact. Spot where you’re making the most difference, review what isn’t working, and focus your efforts on what gets results.

 

Whist branding and marketing is critical to making connections to inspire and create change, these are activities that help tell the story; they don’t write the story itself. For a brand to be truly impactful it must be built around the core purpose of the business, be supported by the culture, and stand for change with every activity it takes.

Purpose | Way | Impact™: start with your purpose, design your purposeful way and deliver on your purpose promise. That’s how one business can change the world.


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