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Purpose beyond profit

Most businesses have a deep and abiding love affair with profit. They measure it, report on it and build strategies to maximise it. But business purpose is beyond your product and the profit you make, true purpose is always human.

Companies spend too much time talking about profit, and products and services. Consumers aren't motivated by what a company produces nor by how much money it makes. We expect companies to make good stuff and deliver on promises. What matters is that companies treat their employees well, people care that your brand works to protect the environment, that you're ethical and that you're transparent about what you do and how you do it.

But even more important than how a company operates is why it exists in the first place. When asked that question, far too many MDs, CEOs and spokespeople answer by reverting to the familiar business blurb, such as “to deliver returns to our shareholders" or "to sell more products.”  These lines no longer work. People expect companies to possess a purpose beyond profits. So, do you have clarity on why your company exists? It is this purpose, that when articulated and placed at the centre of brand communications that builds trust, establishes connections, and maintains relevancy.

Look at it another way. For decades, marketers focused on satisfying two critical basic consumer needs with brand propositions: rationality and emotional need. I believe a third is evolving: a societal need.

When a brand or company demonstrates that it is improving lives and impacting society positively, purchase intent increases as does loyalty and advocacy.

One great example is US brand Zappos; it has revolutionised business, changed lives and has a reputation for excellent service, culture, and delivering happiness. In a nutshell, the company has forged a team with diverse strengths; the leadership team dares to do what they think is right, and they possess passion, determination and humility. The company has five fundamental principles:

o   Serve a perfect fit

o   Make it effortlessly swift

o   Get personal

o   Constantly stretch yourself

o   Play well (play to win)

They are in fact, critical factors for growth and for having a great culture.

There's another less publicly focused but equally important initiative as well, employee engagement. Take the decision by HP to centre its turnaround on its employees and showcase how its technologies make a difference to people around the world. This focus on building a purpose-based culture with employees at its heart proves to be a powerful tool for recruitment and a measurable way to improve employee satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity.

So, when speaking about profits, take a moment to talk also about purpose. And that purpose is human.

Author image by Karl Schoemaker.