Jonathan Weiss/123RF

What is Purpose Driven Marketing?

  • 30 November 2017
  • Expert Insights

We are living in the age of the purpose driven business. Social enterprises today generate $500 billion in revenue each year in the United States alone – a full 3.5% of US GDP. More than 60% of these companies were created in 2006 or later, and half of those have been founded since 2011.

As entrepreneurs throughout the globe are finding new ways to merge profit and social impact, consumers are beginning to expect more from the companies that they support. According to a 2015 survey by Deloitte, 91% of millennials prefer to buy from companies associated with a social cause and 60% said that a sense of purpose is an important part of why they chose to work for their current employer. Edelman’s 2012 Good Purpose Study found that 72% of consumers would recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t – a 39% increase in just four years.

In short: your business can no longer afford to neglect social purpose. And to remain relevant in the minds of consumers, it’s time to embrace purpose-driven marketing.


Marketing 3.0

The modern world of marketing has progressed through three distinct phases. Marketing 1.0 was product-driven, focusing on the merits of the company’s product or service. Marketing 2.0 was customer-driven, harnessing the power of data to focus on the needs of the company’s target market. Marketing 3.0 is purpose-driven. Selling a product is no longer enough. To be competitive, companies today must connect with their customers’ values in a meaningful way. This is where purpose-driven marketing comes in.

Here’s how Ann Gynn at the Institute of Content Marketing defines purpose-driven marketing:

Purpose-driven content marketing is a way for a business or brand to bond with a target audience based on their shared needs and interests – including interest in supporting a worthy cause. But while most organizations recognize the importance of, ‘giving back,’ they aren’t always accustomed to creating content around their efforts in a way that will both engage their audience and drive them to participate. Success in this arena is all about developing the right strategy and executing it in an authentic, organic way that brings mutual benefit to everyone involved.

Purpose-driven marketing highlights a company’s social purpose and impact. This allows companies to connect and engage with their target audience on the level of their personal values, forming bonds of shared interest and trust that are key to customer loyalty.

Five Keys to Effective Purpose-Driven Marketing

1. Define your company’s purpose

Your company doesn’t have to be a full-on social enterprise to have a meaningful purpose. Think about purpose as the soul of your company – they “why” behind what you do. Harold Butler famously said that he founded Denny’s because he wanted to feed people. Today, the company focuses its purpose-driven marketing initiatives around the desire to feed people’s stomachs and souls in an increasingly diverse America. Defining your company’s purpose allows you to focus your marketing on the values that are meaningfully integrated into your business.

2. Be authentic

Effective purpose-driven marketing campaigns are built around a company’s existing purpose and values. Dove’s #speakbeautiful movement is a great example of a campaign that flows naturally from a company’s broader purpose. As a manufacturer of beauty products, Dove’s purpose is to improve the self-esteem and confidence of women. Their #speakbeautiful campaign highlights the fact that beauty is about more than just superficial appearance. The campaign was successful because its connection with the company’s purpose was credible and authentic.

3. Consider the power of partnerships

If your company isn’t in a position to launch its own social impact effort, consider supporting a nonprofit organization whose values align with your own. Promoting these types of partnerships can be a highly effective form of purpose-driven marketing, as shown by Uber’s recent partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Uber – MADD

Uber promoted a discount code over the Fourth of July weekend that, when redeemed, resulted in a $1 or $10 donation to MADD. By partnering with a well-known nonprofit, Uber raised its profile as a socially-conscious, purpose-driven organization. Its reputation has taken a few hits since then, but that’s another story…

4. Keep things positive

Purpose-driven campaigns often focus on difficult social issues that can be tough to talk about. A dose of tasteful humor can help to maintain a positive message without disrespecting the issue at hand. Look no further than Australia’s Metro Trains’ “Dumb Ways To Die” campaign for a perfect example.

5. Measure and evaluate audience engagement

As with any marketing campaign, it’s important to set quantitative goals and to define metrics for measuring success. The exact metrics that you use will differ from campaign to campaign, but some common examples include site visits, social media engagement, and customer satisfaction.

By harnessing the power of purpose-driven marketing, your business can build loyalty amongst existing customers and catch the attention of socially-conscious consumers. It may be just the thing that you need to stand out from – and to rise above – the competition.

About Expert Insights