The season of giving is quickly approaching, which happens to coincide with the time of year when companies need to meet their year-end sales and revenue goals. With the double bottom line of sales success and social responsibility, companies should be looking to purpose-driven marketing as a means to drive connections and brand affinity to support sales while generating empathy and goodwill through storytelling.
Gartner estimates that purpose-driven brands outperform the stock market by 120% while other studies put that estimate at upwards of 200%. With roughly 66% of millennial and Gen Z-aged consumers expressing a preference for brands that have a point of view and stand for something, the ability to engage with social issues and articulate an identity while infusing creativity and passion into your messaging can make a major difference in a brand’s success or failure.
This becomes even more critical as markets reach points of saturation and economic conditions wax and wane. Association with a purpose can solidify a brand’s place in the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers. Think about brands like Patagonia, which in its 45-year history has bucked economic downturns and culture changes to reach an annual revenue in excess of $750M by taking a strong stance on environmental preservation, challenging political institutions, and strongly upholding its social values. In 2016 when the company announced it would give away all of its Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organizations, Patagonia raised $10 million for charity via sales and acquired 24,000 new customers. There is not a single organization in the world that would not welcome that kind of success in a single day.
But how do you know which purposes and values will resonate with your customers? How can a company ensure its investment in purpose-driven campaigns creates value for current and prospective customers as well as its organization while avoiding alienating others?
Ultimately, ensuring the success of purpose-driven campaigns comes down to building meaningful connections using all the technology, data, and creativity at one’s disposal to reach the elusive double bottom line. Here are four tips that can help marketers tap into data and technology to optimize their purpose-driven campaigns:
- Create deep and accurate customer profiles – A true understanding of customers helps market with authenticity and ascertain which values and issues will resonate with buyers. Be on the lookout for commonalities and links across your customer base, and be thoughtful about issues that appeal universally to target segments.
- Establish connections across brand channels – A savvy marketer will leverage all channels and data available to harness the power of multichannel and omnichannel strategies. Ensure that there are consistent and sustained purpose- or value-driven messages, promotions, and calls to action targeted to key customer segments across all touchpoints in a customer journey. Be sure to track response rates across channels to double down on those that work best to achieve active engagement and participation.
- Create shareable, value-driven assets, content, and messages – Stories that inspire and create goodwill will not only generate affinity among existing customers but also help grow awareness among potential customers. On the back end, it’s also important to leverage A/B testing to determine which assets, content, and messages are most effective. Continue to leverage data to identify those that resonate and drive the highest engagement.
- Track campaign success – Pay close attention to growth metrics that speak to brand recognition, improvements in interactions and engagement and indicators of customer loyalty. Some of these include the number of returning website visitors, the number of customers that came from a referral or recommendation of a peer, increases in positive brand mentions, customer satisfaction scores, and customer retention rates.
Success in purpose-driven marketing is not without its challenges. Sustained authenticity can make or break a brand in the long run. While purpose-driven campaigns can be a powerful tool to extend customer lifetime value, without real transformative action from a brand behind a campaign, these efforts can ultimately backfire.
It’s critical that there is an authentic and collective sense of brand purpose throughout an organization that can just as easily be assumed by its customers. Accounting for this can bring long-term success to a brand and help drive marketing ROI well beyond Q4 and the holiday season.
By Daryl McNutt