CMO and CEO at Arketi Group, building thought leadership for a team specializing in PR/digital marketing for B2B tech companies.
Let’s talk company purpose and what it means to put it into practice. Having a purpose that goes beyond making money has become a more prevalent conversation since 2020 when events, including the pandemic and political and social unrest, spurred companies into action.
It’s no longer enough to say your company has purpose. You must practice purpose and get employee/stakeholder buy-in for a greater likelihood of success. Otherwise, purpose serves no purpose other than being a bunch of words on your headquarters’ wall or company website.
High-performing employees are three times more likely to work for an organization with a strong sense of purpose. And more than half of HR leaders polled for another study said they’re tying environmental, social and governance goals to the company purpose and keeping the purpose visible to employees. Further, respondents of a survey we conducted in late 2021 of B2B marketing executives (download required) said purpose activation is directly linked to their company’s financial success. Clearly, organizational purpose matters, and it’s marketing and communications’ role to create, communicate and activate a company purpose that resonates. In fact, 84% of our survey’s respondents believe purpose activation should be part of a company’s communications strategy.
Purpose and humanizing brands aren’t just a B2C initiative either — it’s become more relevant and prevalent to B2B companies, too. So, if your organization lacks a well-defined purpose or you’re unsure how to cultivate it, here are tips B2B marketing and communications teams can use to help employees and other stakeholders keep company purpose top of mind.
Burst the bubble.
When purpose is developed in a bubble, buy-in is unlikely. If, for example,a leader sets the agenda without input from other leaders and employees, purpose fails because people feel disconnected to the purpose or think it’s irrelevant. Purpose cannot be forced down staff members’ throats. Rather, seek input through surveys and focus groups to make sure your defined purpose is impactful to current and prospective employees, customers, partners and investors.
Convey purpose clearly and concisely.
Defining and activating purpose can be particularly challenging if a company has a global footprint or has gone through several acquisitions. If employees and other stakeholders are located in different countries and have diverse cultures, narrowing down ideas on purpose can be downright difficult.
Nobody wants a long-winded purpose, yet for a multinational organization, it needs to resonate beyond the HQ. So work to ensure your purpose is not only easy to understand and absorb but is something employees globally can get passionate about.
Simple statements around core values create a digestible message that employees and others can relate to, regardless of their background or location. Whole Foods Market’s purpose, for instance, is “to nourish people and the planet.” Simple and global.
Bake it into everything.
Beyond putting posters on your walls about purpose, ensure it’s included in your company website (the top channel, according to our findings), social media feeds, newsletters and blogs. Suggest employees shout out company purpose at the bottom of their email signature line. Remember to convey purpose during all-teams meetings and the intranet for employees.
You can take this further by incorporating purpose into employee reviews and trainings and activating it with your customers and business partners. If your purpose includes reducing your carbon footprint by using less gasoline or paper, recruit the people you do business with to do the same. Have a business meeting with a prospect? Rather than making several copies of a PowerPoint presentation, email it to attendees and let them know your company is printing less as part of its purpose and/or ESG efforts.
Consumers and employees are increasingly concerned with corporate practices and impacts on social justice, sustainability and inclusion. Many report considering a company’s stance on such issues when making buying decisions and career choices. In fact, most American consumers (88%) would buy products or services from a purpose-driven company, while 68% want to work for such organizations. This makes communicating your purpose all the more important.
Communicating company and individual employee impact can be meaningful and motivational. However, avoid sounding too self-serving as it could backfire and undermine authenticity. Instead, let others know how the organization’s corporate social responsibility and ESG initiatives benefit employees, external stakeholders and the broader community.
In closing, now more than ever, purpose is considered a core business strategy for global B2B companies. And it’s not just about having a purpose but activating it so stakeholders believe it. Include employees and other key stakeholders in your purpose, keep it succinct, communicate it clearly and everywhere without too much corporate back-patting. Defining and living out your purpose will enable you to improve company culture and drive bottom-line success.
This article first appeared in www.forbes.com
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