Looking back over the decades, challenging times have bred incredible entrepreneurship - and this era should be no different. So what's the hallmark of the entrepreneurs today? And what can marketers learn from them?
Much of today's marketing conversations circle around 'organic' content now. How do brands gain traction in everyday conversations and on social platforms? All too often the central Purpose (with a capital P) is what's missing. The young entrepreneurs that started Google, Twitter, Facebook and Upworthy share a quality that perhaps the previous generation of leaders were lacking. They implicitly understood the key to engagement is putting people first.
Their founders didn't start off with a plan to get rich quick, even though it's difficult to imagine that now, given their relative valuations. They set up with an ambition to offer people genuine value in their lives, to make things better at a human level.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to make information accessible anywhere, whilst Mark Zuckerberg sought to connect people together. Both used technology as their platform, but both had a higher purpose from the outset. That purpose still remains evident today in Larry's mission to make all health data accessible and in Zuck's obsession with connecting the developing world via his Internet.org project.
Learn a lesson
Big brand marketers would do well to learn a lesson from this. If you do the right thing by people, you'll meet your commercial KPIs. In fact, being meaningful has clearly led to significant competitive advantage for the brands above.
If you get that right, people will prefer your brand over others, they will be loyal and most importantly, they will tell your stories for you. .
Technology brands are ranked as the best performers on our Meaningful Brands survey, with Google the world's most meaningful brand according to more than 130,000 people. This tells us that placing authentic Purpose at your core is both profitable and marketable.
To build on the Meaningful Brands work, we have recently conducted a new global study in this area, partnering with Accenture. This current research entitled Re:Purpose will work with brands to help them matter.
This new study reinforces the business critical nature of defining, articulating and living Purpose today. Globally people want better lives, not just better products and services.
According to the World Federation of Advertiser's latest survey of marketers, 88% say Purpose is important to a brand, yet only 51% see its relationship to sales.
Fail to deliver
The problem is this: brands spend their efforts perfecting supply chains and innovating around product delivery, yet fail to deliver six of the top 10 factors people think are important to their purchase choices. Naturally price and quality top the list but when it comes to purchase, re-purchase and loyalty, people want products that offer Purpose and improve the quality of their lives.
Statements such as "Helps me stay healthier", "makes my life easier", "is honest and transparent", "helps me positively impact the environment" rank straight after price and product and illustrate what matters to people's choices.
So all that said, what is the biggest challenge to today's marketers? To think like a tech entrepreneur. To shift from marketing to consumers to mattering to people. If we get that right, people will prefer your brand over others, they will be loyal and most importantly, they will tell your stories for you. In this increasingly #organicmarketing world, stories can be spread in minutes and the rare prize of brand advocacy awarded. On the flip side, in this #ageofdamage, brands can be found out with one tap on a smartphone.
Storytelling is no longer enough, brands must live those stories. To get Purpose right, it must come top down and be rooted in the DNA of the business, so some soul-searching is often the first step to take. Re:Purpose helps to identify brand truths and co-create a purposeful vision for future marketing.
Get it right and it pays dividends. We've seen that the most Meaningful Brands, those with Purpose at their core, are genuinely finding new markets, newfound loyalty and new fans. If that's not commercial enough for you, also know that these brands are proven to outperform the stock market by a staggering 120%.