What is Purpose-Driven Marketing? And Why it Matters.

Studies overwhelmingly agree that people want to support purpose-driven brands.

What is Purpose-Driven Marketing? And Why it Matters.
Photo by NASA / Unsplash

The power of media is undeniable.

Think of it. The world’s media has become an all-consuming global force that molds and defines thoughts, opinions, and eventually actions. It’s remarkable -- and it’s dangerous.

But is there an opportunity for something better to emerge?

Marketing is infused through the media on all platforms, spread by companies and entrepreneurs both large and small, that want to capture your attention. The danger is that marketing that amplifies brands with negative impacts breeds deception and damage to people and the Earth, even creating division and social conflict.

Of course, not all marketing is corrupt. We believe marketing can be a force for good!

In fact, we believe marketing is the very thing that can lead entrepreneurs and businesses forward in making the world a better place. When brands, businesses, entrepreneurs, and creatives use marketing to elevate integrity, meaningful connections, better products and services, and positive impact, they engage in purpose-driven marketing.

Here’s some data to back this up.

Studies overwhelmingly agree that people want to support purpose-driven brands.

The Fake

Before we dive deeper into what purpose-driven marketing is, its benefits, and how to do it, it's important to understand what we're NOT talking about:

  • Greenwashing - which gives misleading information about how a product, service, or manufacturing process is supposedly "environmentally friendly."
  • Corporate "Sustainability" - which can seem nice, acting as a band-aid or a positive PR initiative, without addressing core unethical business practices.
  • Cause Marketing Campaigns - which pushes for a one-time campaign, usually for an isolated social or environmental initiative, rather than pursuing consistent long-term impact.
  • Superficial "Do-Gooder-Ness" - which looks promising or aspirational, but doesn't create real, measurable impact.

The Real

Purpose-driven businesses pursue a greater mission beyond just making money. (Although the good ones make money, too!) At the core, however, these brands focus on more than just driving revenue at all costs. These businesses actively work to...

  • Draw awareness to important issues
  • Create real action on initiatives for healing and renewal
  • Passionately pursue work that creates a positive impact
  • Create jobs for people who want to do purpose-driven work
  • Empower people to create lasting change and social transformation

Companies with a purpose-driven approach are usually committed to the long game, because many of the social and environmental issues we face aren't quick fixes. It’s about better perspective, better process, and better products. It’s simply more conscious awareness and action.

Likewise, purpose-driven entrepreneurs (like you!) are the ones who feel compelled to consistently and authentically lead with their purpose - which pours into their marketing efforts - and spreads their better products and services to produce positive impact and transformation in the world, whether socially or environmentally. This matters! Purpose-driven entrepreneurs need to succeed.

Benefits of Purpose-Driven Marketing

Purpose-driven marketing can accelerate positive impact and bring good to the world while creating successful business results through a holistic approach.

Ultimately, purpose-driven marketing leads to better brand storytelling, more authentic community connection, and higher integrity with products, services, and content across the marketplace. Here are a few key ways purpose-driven marketing can improve a business both internally and externally.

1. Clarifies your brand's "WHY"

People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe” - Simon Sinek, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action

Knowing WHY your business exists empowers you to create holistic decisions that align with your core purpose. Knowing which opportunities and partnerships to pursue becomes clearer with knowing your WHY. The right customers will also find an attraction to your WHY and want to take action to partner with you because of it.

2. Elevates your brand's uniqueness in the marketplace

Not every brand leads and connects with a meaningful mission, even though people are 4x more likely to purchase from a brand with a strong purpose. Establishing brand uniqueness through a sense of purpose is the simplest way to ensure your brand stands out! The goal is to be sincere if you want to attract a real, authentic audience.

3. Attracts people who want to connect with your purpose

When you're leading a purpose-driven business and building a following around your mission, we call this community your "affinity audience." People who believe in your cause become your advocates. If someone aligns with your purpose, they're 4.5x more likely to recommend your brand to family and friends. That's free growth and advertising simply because of your brand purpose.

4. Compels passionate people to join your team

A team focused on positive impact is much more robust in their performance and workplace culture. Many studies show that people pursue careers that align with their values and support society's greater good. Companies with a strong purpose have 40% higher levels of workplace retention, which means it costs significantly less to find, retain, and inspire motivated team players.

5. Makes the world a better place

When your marketing draws attention to products and services that make a positive impact, you take part in making the world a better place for everyone.

Examples of Purpose-Driven Marketing

Of course, everyone knows about some of the big-time purpose-driven brands like Patagonia and TOMS. So, rather than sharing examples you already know about, here's a list of some very cool brands that create positive impact and form communities of passionate advocates. Each brand demonstrates a different way you can align with a purpose-driven approach.

1. Who Gives A Crap

Your business can join a purpose-driven initiative by donating a portion of its profits to a relevant cause. Who Gives A Crap creates 100% recycled toilet paper and 100% bamboo toilet paper--without plastic use--and gives 50% of its profits to help build toilets around the world.

2. L.

A popular way to align your business with a purpose-driven approach is by applying the one-for-one model. L. manufactures organic period care products and gives a culturally sensitive equivalent to a woman in need with every purchase. Their holistic approach ensures high-need communities maintain long-lasting period care and menstrual education.

3. Better World Books

Another way to join a purpose-driven initiative is by providing opportunities for those in need.

Better World Books sells, donates, and recycles books to share knowledge with those who crave it and reduce landfill waste. They also award grants to libraries in local communities to support global literacy.

4. Ethique

Purpose-driven companies can give back to the environment in creative ways while aligning with their core mission. Ethique (Eh-teek) creates sustainable bar soaps with plastic-free packaging. The company donates 20% of its profit to environmentally-conscious initiatives and plants a tree with every order.

Want to learn more about purpose-driven businesses? Check out the ultimate directory of purpose-driven brands with a B-Corp certification.

7 Elements of Purpose-Driven Marketing

Businesses that use purpose-driven marketing incorporate these elements into their marketing and communications.

  1. Alignment - A brand's purpose needs to agree with the company's values, messaging, and results. True brand alignment will incorporate your mission into everything your business does and easily streamline your operations and communications.
  2. Authenticity - It's not enough to say what people want to hear. Oftentimes, shallow promises come from an insincere heart. So, rather than just speaking bold words, take bold and earnest actions. Authenticity is about aligning actions through an empathetic intelligence rather than a pure ego drive.
  3. Community Focused - You can maximize your brand's impact by nurturing a community of like-minded thinkers and change-makers. By leading the way, you can fuel your customers' passion for making the world a better place and create a space for your advocates to engage in meaningful conversations and community.
  4. Compassion & Empathy - In purpose-driven marketing, the key is to use tactful storytelling to evoke an emotional response toward positive action. You can expose the problem and share how your brand uniquely addresses it. By personalizing a connection to create a positive impact (i.e., one purchase = one donated meal), anyone can feel like they're part of the bigger picture.
  5. Definite Impact -  A lot of people want to see how their dollars can make the world a better place. Powerful data and statistics can really grab people’s attention and impact our opinions on key issues. Purpose-driven marketing can easily share how someone can make a real difference by connecting with your brand.
  6. Empowerment - By having a purpose-driven approach to business, you create a positive impact through your work. The key is, you also empower your customers, patrons, and community members to join your efforts, create more impact, and perhaps inspire more and more action toward global renewal.
  7. Clarity & Transparency - On one hand, clarity of purpose and values allows internal teams to recognize and embody their role within the bigger picture. On another hand, transparency lets those outside the company see the legitimate heart of the business and join its cause.

Let’s Go!

Does your company lead with purpose? Does your brand use purpose-driven marketing?

We're cheering for you! If you lead with purpose, we invite you to join our community by connecting with our private Impact Entrepreneur Community. If you have questions about purpose-driven marketing or want help, check out our website.

Ultimately, we want to encourage you on your journey to working and marketing with a greater sense of purpose. We believe that if your mission thrives, we all do.