We are all in business to make a profit. I was told early in my career that if you aren’t making a profit, you don’t have a business – you have a hobby.
Many business leaders are finding that profit is not the only indication of business success. In the new economy, the indication of a truly great company is the ability to combine a great product or service with being a great corporate citizen.
The social responsibility is not a marketing technique, but rather part of the essence of the company. It is a business culture that values economic and societal values together that is able to create a competitive company, a desirable employer and a good corporate citizen.
Purpose becomes the company’s compass rather that an afterthought. Employees become more invested in the company and their community. It becomes a metric for who to use as supply-chain partners. It becomes a guiding light for product development and innovation. It becomes a litmus test for hiring. It becomes a benefit for talent attraction. It becomes an asset for the marketing of the company and their products. Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why” explains it best, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
Companies that exist for something larger than making money have a greater chance of people connecting with them and advocating for them. Companies that stand for something greater than themselves give employees a reason to get out of bed. It provides a clear roadmap of where you have been, where you are and where you are going. When a company embraces a purpose in every aspect of their business model, it becomes the rudder in times of crisis by providing a lens to view what is truly important.
Companies both large and small are beginning to recognize that being a good corporate citizen creates a competitive advantage. For example, Dove’s #speakbeautiful campaign promotes a perception change on how women view and judge themselves. The “Enrich, not Exploit,” motto, embraced by The Body Shop, means enriching people, as well as the planet and resources. You can grow your brand if you give your audience something to connect to. Your audience buys into the why companies do what they do. They buy into the idea that a company exists for something larger than itself. A strong brand purpose means having a distinct brand perspective that influences what your company does and does not do. It’s what drives your company forward. It makes perfect sense that a skin care product be a voice in the conversation about how women view themselves.
It is important that if you state a purpose, you follow through and live that purpose. You don’t want your brand promise to become a tagline with no roots. Customer retention is everyone’s job. There is no stronger statement than everyone in your organization living your brand promise.
• Mary Margaret Maule is president of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.