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Purposeful marketing: doing fewer things better

Purposeful marketing is not a logo design, ad campaign or new website; these are tactics that, in and of themselves, won’t produce remarkable, dependable nor sustainable results.


There are countless ways to spend your marketing budget – Pay-Per-Click, gazillions of emails, Google ads and advertising. I spent many years responding to client requests to oversee these kinds of activities. And over the course of that work I became less and less inspired. The scattergun approaches never netted the results organisations were after, because,

…in far too many cases, the methods were not truly strategic, nor brand-aligned, nor sustainable, nor effectively measured. I witnessed costly and lengthy attempts at a series of marketing approaches, either as in-house projects or by outsourcing work to expensive agencies, without close to a return on investment. The marketing was activity for activity’s sake, rather than marketing that is from purpose, with purpose, on purpose.

Read the article Expressing your purpose through business

Purpose first

When I sought to redefine my own business' marketing approach, I almost made the same mistake so many of my former clients were making. I was tempted to turn to a personal branding expert – someone to come up with a clever strapline and catchy messaging for me. Of course, I knew from all my client work that this wasn’t enough. Branding and marketing must be embedded in purpose and emanate out from culture to be authentic, powerful and effective.

I committed to the much deeper process of becoming purpose-driven and purpose-ful. We zero in on the fundamental purpose of our work. We commit to building a business that will fulfil that purpose. We articulate and commit to the values, culture and business model that support it. And then we create the branding and marketing that announces our commitment to the public, which attracts a long-lasting flow of customers, clients, partners and revenue.

My business is now to help other businesses articulate and announce their purpose through truly purposeful marketing. It starts with deep understanding: why the business exists, what the CEO and/or board of directors believe they are there to do, how employees find meaning and motivation, what positive impact they want their business to make. I apply my ability to join everything up and a rigorous process to ‘find the thread’ that runs from the leadership’s values, their organisation’s purpose, through culture and strategy, to reveal itself in its branding and marketing and impact.

Every business, any business, can be purposeful

Purposeful marketing is about authentic communication. Unfortunately, “authentic” has become a clichéd word in modern marketing; most people ignore it, or roll their eyes when they hear it. But it really is about digging deep, being true and doing fewer things better. It’s not just about what makes your business different, but more importantly, the difference your business makes.

Purposeful marketing isn’t cause-related marketing. Cause-related marketing communicates the ties an organisation chooses to make to a specific campaign or non-profit partner. That’s about supporting a cause beyond your company’s foundational purpose which of course in itself is positive. It’s also different than CSR or corporate citizenship. CSR and corporate citizenship show an organisation’s commitment to make valuable contributions, but are not necessarily the core of what the business does.

Meanwhile, purposeful marketing communicates what your organisation does beyond making money; how it makes a tangible difference to your customers’ lives, and how it is central to the way you do business whilst living within planetary boundaries and making a positive social impact.

In the same way that a personal raison d’etre doesn’t have to be “about massive transformations” (read this article debunking common myths around purpose), your organisation doesn’t need to endeavour to change the world on its own, but rather it can work with others to amplify its impact. But it does require a reason, beyond profit, to exist whilst being respectful of people and planet.

There is an increasing recognition that businesses need to do more than generate profits for shareholders, whether that’s through movements such as ‘Conscious Capitalism’, the Wellbeing Economy or B Corps certification.

B Corps are a particularly interesting example of this. They are part of a global movement that seeks to redefine business success around people and planet to build a more inclusive and sustainable world. To become B Corps-certified, businesses need to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

At the heart of these movements is a recognition that businesses have a wider impact than just making and selling their goods and services. Of course they impact customers and clients, but also the communities in which they are based and the planet in terms of the energy and materials they use. It’s time for all businesses to think beyond profit and recognise their impact – positive and negative – for their community, in the world, and on the planet. We are facing so many challenges, not the least of which are climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Now more than ever businesses need to step up to show leadership and responsibility in the way they develop and deliver products.

Tactics alone are never enough

As markets evolve, and marketing tries to keep up, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by new, shiny digital channels, and act on the feeling that you need to pile on tactics to be seen and heard.

Many companies focus on the ‘doing’ of marketing activity without having any cohesive strategy to guide it all. So often this undirected activity continues year after year without any real measurement of success.

Un-purposeful marketing consists of many activities, ideas, promotions, events and ads – all disconnected from the business’ ‘why’, untethered from its culture. Purposeful marketing, on the other hand, reflects who you are and what you want to be known for, intentionally and unwaveringly. Purposeful marketing allows you to be distinctive and different by being clear about the difference you make.

As a result, purposeful marketing needs fewer tactics for greater success. Through focused investigation, brand and marketing strategies emerge naturally from your culture and values, to align and connect with ideal customers and partners. You’re able to build a thriving business by delivering value. You retain the right employees through shared values and ambitions. And your marketing efforts are focused, strategic, distinct, and effective, so you chase less and accomplish more. Sometimes less really is more!


If you are a business leader frustrated by the marketing results you’re currently seeing, and who senses, after reading this article, that it’s time to bring more meaning to your work and more truth to your marketing, book a call with me and let’s chat through your approach.

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