A Higher Brand Purpose Brings in Customers, Profits

When we act like consumers and contemplate a higher brand purpose, we most often think about the importance of corporate social responsibility, and look for postings about how the brand supports the environment, employee rights, community causes, and the like.

When we act like consumers and contemplate a higher brand purpose, we most often think about the importance of corporate social responsibility, and look for postings about how the brand supports the environment, employee rights, community causes, and the like.

However, there is another form of purpose that we don’t really talk about much. The kind of purpose that can’t be measured by donations to charities, the number of free items given away, or employee volunteer hours. It’s the kind of purpose that changes our lives in little ways. Like what we learn in “A Dog’s Purpose,” which is the narrative of a dog who was valuable in the lives of all those he touched in all of the many lives he led.

In this popular story as a book and movie, we learn the purpose of a dog’s life is to teach his and her humans that life is about fun, helping and saving others, focusing on the present vs. regrets, living for today with someone who loves you back. If we define purpose for brands accordingly, that would mean a brand’s purpose is about sharing happiness; helping others live their best, most joyful lives; and being present.

So if your brand looks at purpose from the life values you share, teach, and nurture, what would those be?

We remember how brands make us feel — about a transaction, a product or service, about ourselves — more than we remember how many donations a brand has made to serve the needy. If we define a brand from its ability to help one achieve happiness, we have to take a look at how we define happiness. Jonathan Haidt, a social psychology professor at NYU, researched this question and came up with “The Happiness Hypothesis,” a book he wrote that suggests the following values are what we seek to find that ethereal “happy place.”

Elements of happiness include:

  • Nurturing others
  • Making a difference in the world
  • Fairness and justice
  • Associating with others who have like values

Brands that deliver on these values create happy customers in ways that go further than the product or service sold. The above values are aligned with something far greater than products. Self-actualization, which Maslow defined in his hierarchy of needs in 1943 in his paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation.” According to Maslow, “Self-actualization is “achieving one’s full potential, including creative abilities.” This is the apex of life’s journey — reaching the goals you set and realizing the dreams that keep you awake. However, brands can achieve “happy” customers — happy being happy people vs. just customers happy with transactions — by fulfilling the other steps of Maslow’s hierarchy, which are:

Step 1: Physiological needs — clothing, food, water, shelter, sleep

Step 2: Safety and Security — Health, employment, property, family and social stability

Step 3: Love and Belonging — Friendship, family, intimacy, sense of connection,

Step 4: Self-Esteem — Confidence, achievement, respect of others, becoming an unique individual

Step 5: As defined earlier

Many products are designed to achieve the basic needs listed in Steps 1 and 2 in ways that others do not. Luxury, prestigious, delicious, and other attributes go beyond basic human necessity. And many others fulfill our need for Love and Belonging, and Self-Esteem, or at least by making us think they do. The way a brand fulfills these steps influences our purchasing choice, our public opinions; a brands’ reputation, Net Promoter Scores, and so on.

Defining a brand’s purpose by the above, and not just the Corporate Social Responsibility purpose aligned with your mission, is key to defining the ways you deliver happiness. And there are many ways you can do this.

  • Coke defined happiness with its Open Happiness campaign that was one of the brand’s most visible and talked about, debuting in 2009.
  • Apple defines happiness with imagery that shows happy people, in happy places, being simply happy!
  • And Target holds First Place on the Forbes list of happy brands because of its upbeat, energetic atmosphere with fun, trendy products that make us feel fun and current.

Conclusion

The key to success today, and elevating your brand to a higher level, is to define your brand’s “life” purpose in ways that are realistic, meaningful, and actionable for your customers.

As you continue to look at your brand’s purpose and build marketing and customer programs around it, think beyond what your brand actually does for the world and your communities, and ponder more about what your brand does to help people find their higher purpose.

  • How do you further self-esteem?
  • How do you further one’s ability to nurture and help others?
  • How do you help people be the difference they want to be in this world?

Aligning with life’s higher purposes, not just happy transactions for customers, sets brands apart in ways that take price, selection, and even convenience out of the equation.

The Purpose-Driven Brand

Since the beginning of time to this very moment, we humans have been driven by purpose. Consciously and unconsciously, we seek meaning in our lives and the need to actively make a difference and leave a personal legacy of good when we move on from this existence. Jung addresses this in his Individuation process and so, too, do modern and past psychologists and researchers of human behavior drivers.

Since the beginning of time to this very moment, we humans have been driven by purpose. Consciously and unconsciously, we seek meaning in our lives and the need to actively make a difference and leave a personal legacy of good when we move on from this existence. Jung addresses this in his Individuation process and so, too, do modern and past psychologists and researchers of human behavior drivers.

Rick Warren, founder of The Saddleback Ministries, and best-selling author, discovered just how powerful our need and drive for purpose is when he wrote, “The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?” Written in 2003, this book became the bestselling hardback non-fiction book in history, and is the second most-translated book in the world, after the Bible.

Today’s consumer seeks purpose outside of the traditional methods of religion, volunteerism, and random acts of kindness toward friends and strangers. Many of us, in fact most of us, seek to further our sense of purpose with our choices at the grocery store, online shopping carts and more. According to research by Cone Communications and Edelman, consumers in the U.S. are more likely to trust a brand that shows its direct impact on society (opens as a PDF). Others, upwards of 80 percent, are more likely to purchase from a company that can quantifiably show how it makes a difference in people’s lives—beyond just adding to the investment portfolio of a very select few.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, purpose is defined as:

: the reason why something is done or used
: the aim or intention of something
: the feeling of being determined to do or achieve something

Consumers are not just expecting big business to define a social purpose for the brand, they are demanding it by how they are making purchasing and loyalty choices. Edelman’s “Good Purpose Study,” released in 2012 and covering a five-year study of consumers worldwide shows:

  • 47 percent of global consumers buy brands that support a good cause atleast monthly, a 47 percent increase in just two years.
  • 72 percent of consumers wouldrecommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t, a 39 percent increase since 2008
  • 71 percent of consumers would help a brand promote its products or services if there is a good cause behind them, representing a growth of 34 percent since 2008
  • 73 percent ofconsumers would switch brands ifa different brand of similar quality supported a good cause, which is a 9 percent increase since 2009

Another research group, Cone Communications, showed that 89 percent of consumers are likely to switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause if price and quality are similar; and 88 percent want to hear what brands are doing to have a real impact, not just that they are spending resources toward a cause.

This new state of consumerism doesn’t just show people still have a heart and soul, it is a big flag to brands in all industries to integrate CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility into their brand fiber, customer experience and marketing programs.

I interviewed William L. “Toby” Usnik, Chief CSR Officer for Christie’s in New York City, who maintains that CSR has moved far beyond writing a check and then emotionally moving on from a cause or community in need. It is about a brand’s purpose being bigger than developing its return to shareholders. Validating Usnik is a recent article published in the March 21, 2015, edition of The Economist, quoting Jack Welch of GE fame as saying “pursuing shareholder value as a strategy was ‘the dumbest idea ever.’ ” While that might be debatable, it is becoming less and less debatable, per the statistics above that show how defining a brand’s purpose in terms of the social good it delivers to communities related to its business is anything but “dumbest”—and rather, is getting smarter and smarter by the day.

Charting new territory in his role as Chief CSR Officer for Christie’s, Usnik’s first step was to define CSR as it relates to human psychology and the values of the Christie’s brand. For Usnik, it starts with building a brand’s purpose around Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and helping your constituents get closer to self-actualization, or that state of reaching a higher purpose for a greater good.

“Moving customers upwards through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is critical to address,” says Usnik. “Customers of all ages, and especially Millennials, are moving toward a state of self-actualization and looking to define their purpose and place in communities and the world. They seek relationships with brands that are doing the same within their own value set. As a result, any business today needs to ask itself, ‘What is the impact of our activities on each other, the community, the workplace, customers and the planet?’ “

Defining your brand’s purpose and corresponding CSR efforts is the first step to developing emotional and psychological bonds with internal and external customers. When you make your CSR actionable by engaging others in your cause, you can build passion and loyalty that not only define your brand, but also your profitability. Coke defines its brand through its happiness campaign that involves delivering free Coke and other items, like sports equipment and toys, to villages around the world, and through water sanitization programs.

Tom’s Shoes, an example that is known to most as one of the pioneers in philanthropic branding, went from $9 million to $21 million in revenue in just three years by being a “purpose-driven brand” that enables people to give back to others simply by making a purchase. With a cost of goods sold of $9 and a sale price of more than $60, that is not hard to do.

At Christie’s CSR, is a big part of CRM. According to Usnik, Christie’s helps many of its customers sell high-value works of art. Many customers then donate the proceeds to social causes that align with their personal values or passions. By helping customers turn wealth into support for charitable causes, they actually create strong emotional bonds with customers, rooted in empathy and understanding—which is far more critical for securing lifetime value than points and reward programs.

In just 2014, $300 million in sales were facilitated through Christie’s that benefited non-profit organizations. Additionally, Christie’s regularly volunteers its charity auctioneers to nonprofit events. And in 2014, he estimates they’ve raised $58 million for 300 organizations.

The key to successful branding via CSR programs and purpose-driven strategies that transcend all levels of an organization and penetrate the psyche of we humans striving to define our role in this world is sincerity. Anything less simply backfires. Brands must be sincere about caring to support worthwhile causes related to their field, and they must be sincere when involving customers in charitable giving.

Concludes Usnik, “You can’t fake caring. If you pretend to care about a cause you align with, or a cause that is important to your customer, [you] won’t succeed. Caring to make a difference must be part of your culture, your drive and your passion at all levels. If you and your employees spend time and personal energy to work closely with your customers to make a difference for your selected causes and those of your customers, you are far more likely to secure long-term business and loyalty and overall profitable client relationships.”

Takeaway: The five primary drivers of human behavior, according to psychologist Jon Haidt of the University of Virginia and author of “The Happiness Hypothesis,” are centered around our innate need to nurture others, further worthy causes, make a difference in the world, align with good and help others. When brands can define themselves around these needs, we not only influence human behavior for the greater good, we can influence purchasing behavior for the long-term good of our individual brands. And per the Edelman research, 76 percent of customers around the world say its okay for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time. So define your purpose, build your plan, engage your customers and shine on!

Purpose + Frequency + Free = Marketing Turnaround

If email marketing and social media results are not meeting your expectations, it may be time to shift direction. Today we share part two of our experience that transformed an email and social media marketing campaign with online video. Sales increased 20 percent using a strategy centered around purpose, frequency and free content marketing—with online video at the center of the program—to rebuild email marketing and social media engagement. It’s easy to get into a rut of using

If email marketing and social media results are not meeting your expectations, it may be time to shift direction. Today we share part two of our experience that transformed an email and social media marketing campaign with online video. Sales increased 20 percent using a strategy centered around purpose, frequency and free content marketing—with online video at the center of the program—to rebuild email marketing and social media engagement. It’s easy to get into a rut of using the same direct marketing approach over and over and expecting results to improve. But if it’s time to change direction, this strategy has proven itself to produce results.

We’ve achieved success by telling a story, in increments over time, using online video as the central messaging delivery vehicle.

Think of reading a book. The story is divided into chapters to help the reader know where one part of the story begins and ends, and each part leads to the next. Once all consumed, the entire story comes together with the sum being greater than the parts.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

In our last blog post, we introduced the concept of giving purpose to email, social media and other channels. We shared a marketing make-over that resulted in a sales increase of 20 percent. If you missed part one where we explain the importance of purpose, we encourage you to watch it now.

The three elements of the strategy we talk about in today’s video include:

  1. Creating purpose to your email and social media touch points
  2. Enabling frequency in reaching out to customers, donors and prospects
  3. Giving away content that’s free and builds confidence before making the purchase decision

Successful direct marketing should have purpose every time you reach out to connect with your installed base of customers or followers. Your email, social media and other channels can be transformed from a screaming “Buy me now! Here’s a discount! We can change your life!” campaign to “you’ll learn more about how the product is made” or “we’d like to earn your trust so get to know us better” or “take a behind-the-scenes look” or other transformational marketing messages.

Softer? Yes. And in our culture today, we’ve seen, firsthand, that it’s more effective.

A campaign that has purpose gives you permission for frequency.

A word about frequency: Like many of you, I’ve been in direct marketing for a long time. Whenever I’d hear that the secret sauce to making radio and television advertising a success was frequency, I’d roll my eyes.

You may look at the frequency pitch as just an excuse for radio and TV folks to sell more time and run up your cost. As direct marketers, we believe that if we mail an offer once, we’ll get most of the response in that first effort. Rarely does a second mailing produce more than the first mailing.

But we’ve learned the online space is different. When your message has purpose, with a story built through the use of video, it generates a reason for your touch points to become more frequent.

In the case history that we describe in today’s video blog, you’ll learn that we were fearful that frequency might result in email open and click-through declining. But the opposite happened. Once hooked, people looked forward to the next email or social media post to hear the continuation of the story. In fact, open and click-through rates increased substantially over what had been done in the past and those levels were maintained throughout the campaign.

Social media engagement soared because frequent posts meant friends shared the video with their friends. The Facebook metrics and reports that are available are a direct marketer’s dream. We were able to measure the viral effect of our video beyond our core group of fans.

With email and social media costs being relatively low, it means that with frequency your installed base of customers or followers spread your message on your behalf. And if you don’t have a large number of customers or followers, you can build that list faster with video.

The third key concept is a paradigm shift for those of us who are classically trained direct marketers. Over the years, we’ve always known that an offer of “free with purchase,” would increase response. Today we challenge you to shift “free with purchase,” to simply “free.” You may have heard it referred to as “content marketing.” Giving content away invites a prospective customer to build trust in you. Videos can tell the story of how your product is developed or you can interview real customers telling their real stories and testimonials.

In today’s video, we explain how giving away a 99 cent value item in exchange for a $56 average order increased sales by 20 percent.

With online tools and technology, you can create stories that are delivered on video. You’ll give purpose to email, social media and other vehicles. You will have permission from your installed base of customers and followers to contact them frequently. And when you give away something of value, you build trust and allow them to be more confident in their decision to purchase. When you combine purpose, frequency and free, it can transform and turnaround marketing approaches that are fatiguing or in a rut.

Also in today’s video, we share with you several ideas about topics you can use to create your own series of videos. If you’re struggling with ideas of how you’d use video using these three principles, tell us about your product or service in the comments below, or contact us directly. And for our loyal followers, we’ll freely share our ideas via email or a conference call of how a video series could make sense for you to engage your customers, donors or prospects.

In our next blog post, we’ll explain how to build your story, chapter-by-chapter so you can maximize the purpose/frequency/free content strategy.

How Much Time You Invest in Social Media Does Not Matter

“How much time do I need to devote to LinkedIn and/or Facebook per day?” Stop. Behind this question is a lie that is preventing your success. Wanting to know the optimal amount of time to invest in social media platforms each day is a natural desire, but having that answer won’t make social strategies produce more leads. That’s why top social sellers are putting down “hour-a-day” books and picking up a new habit: Changing the question entirely.

“How much time do I need to devote to LinkedIn and/or Facebook per day?” Stop. Behind this question is a lie that is preventing your success. Wanting to know the optimal amount of time to invest in social media platforms each day is a natural desire, but having that answer won’t make social strategies produce more leads. That’s why top social sellers are putting down “hour-a-day” books and picking up a new habit: Changing the question entirely.

Lack vs. Abundance
As it turns out, social media is evolutionary, not revolutionary and time is abundant, not lacking. Say to yourself, “I have nothing but time.” Seriously, say it to yourself right now. Try living the life of abundance for just one day and act as if you have time for social media. Play along; you just might just find yourself working differently—more productively.

Social platforms like LinkedIn are a better, faster way to get hired or locate and nurture a sales lead—if you honestly believe them to be. If you don’t, they’ll just be another “marketing channel” to react to in a very uncreative way that doesn’t increase your effectiveness or liberate you. Your thoughts manifest reality.

The harsh reality is that many of us find ourselves reacting to social media rather than getting creative with it because we’re adopting it out of the fear of being left behind by—or losing control of—customers. I know it sounds all woo-woo and kum-ba-yah, but an attitude of abundance goes hand-in-hand with generating more leads and sales; it always has.

Stop Worrying About Time
LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging … these strategies are making a difference to a select few marketers and business owners who see time as being abundant. They see—and experience—LinkedIn, blogging, educational YouTube videos, Facebook, etc., as time-savers, not time-wasters. And you can too.

“How much time do I need to devote to LinkedIn per day?” is a valid question. But when you ask it, you’re investing in lack—what you do not have. Time. But you do have time to invest in saving time, right? That’s what LinkedIn represents, after all. In coming weeks I’ll prove it to you by describing my own lead generation success using LinkedIn.

Change the Question
For now, let’s start by changing your question to: “How can I determine what LinkedIn’s purpose is for me, how I can best use it to achieve that goal in shorter time?”

More widely, you can be asking, “How can I get clear on what social media’s purpose is for my business—and how I can best use it to achieve that specific goal?”

See the difference? By asking these questions—first—deciding how much time to invest occurs naturally, painlessly and obviously as part of everyday life.

What if your purpose was to find a faster way to net a sales lead—rather than seeking out a “silver bullet amount of time?” What if your purpose was to meet the right prospect and pitch them in less time, get hired faster, have your manuscript discovered by a publisher sooner, speed up the conversion to sale process … whatever.

Make Purpose Primary, Time Secondary
Everyone I interviewed in my book said the same thing: If you want to sell with social media, start focusing on creating crystal clear business—not marketing—purpose for it before anything else. Time will work itself out. Trust in it, have faith.

Think about how you feel when you ask “How much time is this going to take?” You’re reacting, defensive. The presumption behind the question is that LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging or whatever is somehow “different.” But what if social media could be a better way to achieve a particular set of goals you have-rather than being “so different” and such a pain? It can be if you so choose.

Social media is not rocket science. The more you think it is the more you’ll believe time investment is what makes the difference. It does not. As Peter Drucker said, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

How to Know What to Blog—Always and Forever

How do I decide what to write about in my blog? What’s the right balance of “providing value” and my product/service? These are great questions and everyone is asking them. So here I am answering them. In doing so I’m demonstrating how I, myself, generate leads for my business. Sure, I’m about to provide you with value, but if this story is going to serve a business purpose I need to write it as part of a larger plan, a content marketing system designed to produce leads and sales.

How do I decide what to write about in my blog? What’s the right balance of “providing value” and my product/service? These are great questions and everyone is asking them. So here I am answering them. In doing so I’m demonstrating how I, myself, generate leads for my business. Sure, I’m about to provide you with value, but if this story is going to serve a business purpose I need to write it as part of a larger plan, a content marketing system designed to produce leads and sales.

And by the way, I like writing this stuff. I do it with pleasure and so can you, providing you take pride in serving your market.

Gotcha With the Headline
As you can see, my headline got your interest enough to earn your click. it was pithy, useful, unique and very specific to a pain you’re experiencing. So make sure your headlines on Twitter, your blogs—anywhere and everywhere—are the same.

The hands-down source for just about everything blogging is Brian Clark’s Copyblogger. At the end of this article I’ll give you a link to his Magnetic Headlines resource that will give you the practical knowledge, inspiration and motivation to write nothing but magnetic headlines.

It’s About the Problem, Not ‘Value’
Ok, so you’re still reading. Why? Probably because you think I have the cure for your pain. I effectively secured your attention and now am beginning to scratch an itch you have (your urge to find a better way to blog). Of course, I’ve also set your expectation and had better deliver! I’d better provide value.

My point is focus this: Focus on customers’ problems. It’s not about providing value. Providing value is a meaningless industry buzz term, folks. Functionally it’s a cop-out. Your success at lead-focused blogging (and keeping your sanity if not finding a bit of joy in your work) depends on addressing your customers’ problems in a systematic way.

The System
The best way to describe the system is this: Be an answer center for your customers. Good news! This is a familiar concept to many direct marketers. But those who aren’t traditionally “direct savvy” are getting in on the game too.

The idea of being an answer center for prospective and current customers isn’t new to Amanda Kinsella of Logan Services. It’s what this residential heating and air conditioning product and services company has been doing for many years offline—at home improvement shows, for instance.

What works in blogging is rooted in an old idea: trading answers to serious problems with customers for insight on their “state of need” as a way to nurture leads (not just relationships) to fruition. “Then we can be there when prospects need our products and services,” says Kinsella.

Think about it in terms of your business. Might you already be helping customers solve problems in ways that capture information on the prospect’s “state of need” in return? When you answer questions for customers do you ask them in ways that lead customers to asking more? This is the key.

The Purpose of ‘Providing Value’
Ms. Kinsella says hammering away at calls-to-action and constantly asking for the sale won’t work. Because it never has. It’s not very sociable. What will? A more traditional, familiar tactic: answering questions that are important to the prospect in ways that entice them to ask more.

That’s providing value, yes, but Logan Services always provides this information in return for insight on their prospect’s need—where they are in the purchase consideration process, for instance. These details always-always-always connect to a lead-nurturing process. That’s the purpose of providing value. Right? The trick is to answer questions in ways that prompt more questions.

One Simple Idea That Works
Put this idea of answering your customers most frequently asked questions (or FAQ’s) to work today. Make the questions your headlines and the answers your bait. Make the answers complete (valuable) but always leading to more questions.

Dangle a hook nearby (in the form of a call to action) for a “complete guide to” resource that requires email registration, for instance. But resist rolling into the office and asking, “How often should we post stories on our blog, and on what day is best to get re-tweeted?”

Be like Amanda. Ask a different question. “What problems do my customers need solved? What itches can I scratch for them today?”

“How can I measure the value of a blog subscriber? How much engagement on her blog or re-tweets on Twitter is needed to have a positive effect?” People like Amanda don’t know—and don’t care. Because they know it’s the wrong question.

Here’s that link to Copyblogger that I promised!