What is your purpose? We’ve heard this question bantered about for quite some time, especially as it relates to business. Without a clear purpose, how do you know what products you will manufacture or who your target audience is? How will you know how to lead your team through the bumps and bruises of daily business operations?
As I work closely with purpose-driven companies, it’s clear to see they are embracing this concept not just as a one-time exercise, but a way to do business every day. Plus, it’s not just the CEO’s who are on board, but entire teams who are looking to support the cause in their individual roles.
Step 1: Ask the Right Questions
Identifying your business purpose and accompanying vision, mission, and values begins with asking some questions. These questions can be in the form of face-to-face meetings, a short survey, or a balanced combination of both. The goal is to find out from each of your constituents how they feel about the company, its current state, and its plans for the future.
Most of my clients utilize a combination of detailed surveys, face-to-face meetings, and facilitated workshops. Surveys are typically deployed to internal team members, while customer interviews secure the balance of the information. Engaged employees and satisfied customers have to be at the center of this exercise.
Step 2: Decipher the Data
Survey responses and qualitative data are compiled, analyzed, and then summarized. The end result is that there should be a few key themes that rise to the top that will serve as the foundation for a future mission statement. For example, does the data point to stellar customer service or outstanding communications between your team and their clients? Perhaps your product or service is the key differentiator.
Whatever the data points to, an important next step is to communicate the results to your team in order to land on those key points that will drive your mission, vision, and values going forward. While there may be a temptation to “be all things to all people,”, this can cause confusion to employees, clients, and future nonprofit partners.
Step 3: Discover Your Company’s Mission
With informed data in hand, it’s time to meet with the teams. While the leadership team is always welcome to attend these meetings, it’s recommended that they simply set the stage at the onset, and leave the rest to the facilitator. This is the best way to secure feedback that is open, honest, and unbiased.
As I facilitate these sessions, I have seen previously quiet employees speak up and traditionally outspoken employees begin to listen to the conversations around the tables. Inevitably, everyone leaves with a sense of ownership in the process. It is this ownership that will drive team members to commit to the company vision on a daily basis.
Step 4: Select a Social Impact Partner
A singular purpose, backed with a vision for the future will be the catalyst that brings about business success. This success, when shared with a thoughtfully-chosen social impact cause or partner, has the power for your business to make a real difference.
With so many nonprofit organizations to choose from, how do you know which is right for you? At its simplest, look for a partner who can benefit from the products or services you offer. Another may be to align with a partner who complements your industry. For example, if you are in the business of manufacturing, perhaps you select a partner who can benefit from your overruns.
The process of identifying your business’ vision, mission, and values is filled with many discoveries – many of which may come from sources you did not expect. However, once the process is completed, the real work comes as you strive to implement on a daily basis. In order to be an authentic company, driven by purpose, your vision must meld into everyday business operations. Then and only then can you see it come alive for employees, customers, and your community.
With Super Bowl 51 tucked neatly into the playbooks, it is compelling to consider whether the commercials, many of which were focused on the advertiser’s social impact initiatives, are also gathering dust. Let’s face it; there is no better way to get a message out to the masses than a multi-million dollar ad campaign during one of the most-watched sporting events of the year. But what is the shelf life of this message?
Is Branding a One and Done Exercise?
Anyone in marketing or advertising will tell you that potential customers need to see an ad seven times before they will remember it. Considering the price tag of a Super Bowl commercial, this becomes challenging. However, backing up the big splash of a pricey ad with supporting communications makes this possible.
The question on my mind however is were these advertisers looking to sell more goods or were they hoping for a bigger impact? With messages of inclusion, equality, and doing good, it is clear these corporations wanted to take a stand with their brand. But did they accomplish this goal?
Re-purposing Your Products for Good
For over thirty years, Budweiser has been taking the water from its beer production operations and re-purposing it to help those impacted by natural disasters. Its Stand By You commercial gets the gold star for authenticity while also for giving consumers an “Ah-ha” moment as many likely did not know about these activities.
The commercial brought to life a business practice that is slightly altered when our country and its people are in need. Budweiser breweries continually step up to the plate when natural disaster strikes. For example, the Cartersville, GA brewery delivered nearly three million cans of water in 2017 because of the multitude of natural disasters. When necessary, breweries across the country partner up when demand is high.
What’s even more striking is that this is not a one and done exercise for Budweiser. Since they have made this reinvention part of their daily business operations, their customers can rest assured that their message of helping those in need goes beyond three minutes during the Super Bowl. They have a resounding social impact and sustainability commitment as they strive to create a “Better World.” From wildfires to hurricanes, Anheuser-Busch has been and will continue to be there.
I believe that we will begin to see a surge in companies thinking outside the box on how their products or services can help others. While many may have been doing this without a lot of fanfare, they may begin to toot their horns a bit more especially as Millennials look to these organizations to do more than produce goods, but rather to give back.
When companies move beyond profit and focus on purpose, they are creating a brand promise that their customers will support beyond their wallets, and long after the last touchdown.
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It’s the New Year. The rush of the holidays are over and you and your team are ready to resume normal business operations. However, for purpose-driven companies, their daily routines include ensuring that their business is giving back to their community through their social impact initiatives.
Selecting a nonprofit partner that aligns with your business purpose is the first step. This partner should mesh with your company culture and more importantly make sense to your customers and other constituents. While one and done financial donations are admirable, having a social impact program that can give back has staying power.
Begin In Your Backyard
It can be overwhelming trying to select a nonprofit organization when there are so many needs in the world. It’s best to begin where you are. Look around at your local communities as it is highly likely there are a variety of organizations already in place that could benefit from your support.
You may find that your clients and team members are already heavily involved in volunteering which makes them a great resource for discovering an applicable nonprofit for your organization. Company-wide or departmental meetings or even a quick survey are great ways to secure this information. Not only will this likely provide you with a variety of ideas, it may very well identify causes for which you were not aware of.
Perhaps it’s a local shelter, animal rescue, or food pantry. Remember, it’s not the size of the nonprofit organization that matters, but the impact you and your team can make in your sphere of influence. Additionally, by selecting a cause for which your clients already support, you can partner with them on activities or join them at charity events.
Take it Up a Notch
Looking to make a big splash? Consider aligning with the global sustainability goals as published by the World Economic Forum. With seventeen goals ready for the taking, your organization should have no trouble finding one that will work for you. Established in 2000 by the United Nations, these initiatives have one goal in mind: to eliminate poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease for good.
Using these sustainability goals as a foundation should make it easier to develop a social impact program that is aligned with your business purpose and helps to ensure that no one will be left behind.
As you approach the New Year, take some time to evaluate your existing community commitments. If your community partners have been in place for a few years, it may be time to review the impact that you’ve made to date. Consider assigning this role to a few members of your team is a guarantee that creative ideas for future initiatives will be discovered. Additionally, placing this responsibility with them ensures that it will be a living breathing component of your daily operations.
It’s no secret that the business climate is changing and has been for some time. Whether those changes are driven organically by the market, by world events, or even by changes within an organization, it’s more important than ever for businesses to have a purpose that’s embraced by their team, their customers, and the industry.
Purpose. Vision. Mission. Values. In the past, these were dead words on the walls within your organization. Today, they’re embedded in employee goals, plastered on websites and social media, and talked about at customer meetings. In short, they’ve come alive.
Four Tips to Communicating Your Company Purpose
You may remember the Faberge® shampoo commercial from the early ‘80’s with the famous saying, “and they’ll tell two friends and so on, and so on and so on. “ It was a veritable game of telephone but guess what? It worked! Telling your friends about a great product or service you’ve used is likely to get them to try it. It’s the same thing when communicating your company’s purpose. The more people you tell, the more it will be embraced.
What’s Your Story?
The first step in communicating your purpose is, well… you need to know your company’s purpose and understand that it’s ever evolving! Investing time, money, and resources into the development of your purpose is the first step. If it’s muddled, or your team just can’t get behind it, then it’s time to step back and refine, refine, refine until it resonates with every person around the lunchroom.
Don’t Go It Alone
In the old days, CEO’s would announce, “Here’s our purpose and company mission!” The next day, you had new business cards and screen savers. But you had no say. This is called a “top-down purpose,” which completely misses the mark. Engaging your team, your customers, partners, and vendors in the story makes it richer and more colorful. When everyone has a stake in your purpose, they’ll be more likely to embrace it and tell others. Partner with non-profit organizations that share your purpose and create programs where employees can give back.
Play a Digital Game of Telephone
Now it’s time to get social. Share your story of your purpose across all of your social platforms and other digital channels like e-newsletters, blog posts, and even video. The goal is to get people talking about your company. What’s more important is for you to talk back. Respond to comments on social media. Request that your employees like and share your communications to their circles.
Is It Still Breathing?
Your company’s purpose, its vision, and mission are living things. They need constant care if they are going to make a real difference in your organization’s goals. To keep it alive, check on it from time to time. Does your purpose still make sense for your business? Does your mission need a makeover? This is not a one and done exercise, yet rather a “lifestyle” change that will need attention on a regular basis. Survey your employees and customers from time to time to see if your company’s purpose still “fits”. Their feedback is priceless to ensure your vision stays alive.
If you’re looking to develop or revive your company’s purpose, consider working with a partner whose primary purpose is helping you find yours. Contact us today to learn more.
We are coming to the end of an active hurricane season that left millions of people without the basic necessities of shelter, food, and water. During this time of hardship, we saw many individuals, non-profits, and corporations give to help fulfill immediate needs. Our local preschool encouraged its families to donate to a church in Puerto Rico where today one million Americans are without running water and three million are without power. The request for donations was a natural one as our preschool focuses on raising charitable children. With corporations who provided much needed support, were these donations a “one and done” exercise or are they tied to their higher purpose, their mission, and values?
Connect Community Needs with Company Purpose
I believe that it’s time for corporations to rethink how they give back on a regular basis, not just in a time of crisis. Developing a holistic social impact program that is aligned with your company’s purpose can re-invigorate a disengaged workforce, ignite stronger customer loyalty, and make a real difference in the world. Here are a few tips to help you reinvigorate – or perhaps – initiate a meaningful social impact program that stands the test of time and focuses on the long-term needs of a community or social issue. Seek to move the need and make a true, quantifiable impact.
1. Connect your giveback or volunteer efforts to your company’s higher purpose. For example, if your company’s philanthropic mission is to support education, then your volunteer efforts should support this. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, perhaps instead of a cell phone provider waiving fees, the company adopts a school that is in need of supplies or books.
2. Partner with a local charitable organization or cause that supports this purpose. Continuing with the above example, consider joining up with local charities that are helping to rebuild schools.
3. Communicate your efforts not for brownie points, but rather to inspire others to follow suit. Elevate the message by including your non-profit’s impact as well. This is a joint effort where both organizations win with clear and inspiring messaging.
4. Evaluate the relationship and your social impact program on a regular basis to ensure it resonates with employees, vendors, partners and most importantly, customers.
At OnPurpose PR, we work closely with organizations that want to develop meaningful giveback programs that flow seamlessly from their mission and values, inspire employees, and ultimately, make a real difference in the world. Contact us today to learn more.
Whether you’re a small business owner or CEO of a large corporation, your company only thrives when the people behind it believe in its purpose and mission, share in company values, and want to give back to their local communities or the world. Employees want to work for an organization they believe in and where they feel that the leaders and other team members aren’t in it just for a short-term gains, but for the longer-term impact.
Consumers are demanding more and more of business – big and small. They want to know that the products and services are environmentally kind, that the employees are focused on stellar customer service, and that their support of these business is helping to make our planet more sustainable or at least environmentally neutral.
A great example of a company who is led by their purpose is Patagonia®. Their commitment to corporate, social, and environmental sustainability is so clear that they have broadcasted it across their website. Additionally, with their new $20 Million and Change program, they aim to help other start-ups deliver on their promises of being environmentally conscious.
But what if you’re a business who has not given much thought to your culture as of late? Let’s face it –many companies are only now starting to pull ahead from the Great Recession and layoffs. How do you dust off that old company mission statement and use it to re-energize your company culture?
Here are three questions to ignite the conversation:
How does my company make the world better?
Would my company be missed if it no longer existed tomorrow?
What is my company’s vision for the future?
At OnPurpose PR, we help businesses answer these questions through focus-groups, client and vendor interviews, and internal workshops. The answers don’t come overnight, but they do come. When it’s time to implement the newly-discovered vision, mission, and values, everyone is on board and excited to march down the purpose-driven path together.
By helping business leaders discover their company’s purpose, OnPurpose PR helps them change the world. To learn more about how OnPurpose PR can help your company discover or reinvent its purpose, click here.