Why marketing needs a bigger purpose

September 18, 2019 -  By
Apple (Photo: iStock.com/AngiePhotos)

What’s your aim? Purposeful marketing geared toward customers’ experiences is often more meaningful than products. (Photo: iStock.com/AngiePhotos)

In late 1996, Apple acquired NeXT, the company Steve Jobs founded after getting kicked out of Apple more than a decade earlier.

In 1997, Apple fired its CEO and named Jobs interim CEO.

Most analysts had already given up on Apple. It was on the brink of bankruptcy and losing billions. Apple’s marketing campaign at the time was communicating features and benefits to customers. Jobs believed this way of marketing was wrong.

“We’ve lost our way,” he said. “We need to get back to our core value — that people with passion change the world for the better.”

That purpose changed the marketing road map. It put Apple on a path to innovation, and it became the first company to reach a market valuation of a trillion U.S. dollars.

Marketing that differentiates is unlike advertising

According to a July 15 article in AdAge, marketing is moving from an interruption model to one that is purpose driven.

The interruption model wants to sell more products. The purpose-driven model aims for customer experiences that are bigger than products. Apple proved the purpose-driven model works. The idea that marketing must have a purpose is changing the marketing landscape in dramatic ways.

The most stunning change is the elimination of the chief marketing officer role. Marketing titans like Coca-Cola, Unilever and Taco Bell have created new positions to replace CMOs. Chief growth officer, chief innovation officer and chief experience officer are some of the new titles emerging. These titles signal a shift from what marketing is to what it can become, and that’s something bigger.

Companies have to commit to helping customers in ways that products cannot. Does your marketing have a purpose bigger than revenue and profits?

If it doesn’t, it lacks meaning, and a meaningful point of differentiation. This is what Steve Jobs was saying. To compete with HP and IBM, Apple had to be true to its core value, its purpose of changing the world.

Are you ready to change the world? At least your small corner of it?

Brand-purpose marketing transcends marketing barriers

The marketing officers that were eliminated did their jobs. They successfully marketed products, but all products have their limits. Nowadays, people want more. They want to rally around brands that have a purpose greater than what they sell. You can find that purpose by looking inside.

As marketers, we tend to look outside ourselves for validation. We do what the market seems to be telling us to do, only to find out that markets move quickly. To win, you have to be smarter than the market.

What are your customers saying that you can build your marketing around? Build listening systems to gather and analyze data that informs your purpose.

To find this data, look no further than replies to your email newsletters, social media comments and Google Profile reviews, both positive and negative. Now connect that data with your purpose.
That purpose, that promise, is your brand.

A brand purpose conveys important feelings of community and trust. It unifies and transcends traditional marketing barriers. Customers large and small can all get behind the same brand purpose.

Make marketing that shows your customers it understands how they feel and thinks as they do. Naturally, this will repel some people, and that’s OK.

Brand-purpose marketing is giving customers a relationship with a company that dares to think bigger.

Jeff Korhan

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the author of Built-In Social, founder of Landscape Digital Institute, and a Duct Tape Marketing Certified consultant. He helps green industry owners, marketers and sales teams craft and communicate branded customer experiences that sell. Learn more at www.landscapedigitalinstitute.com

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