Does Purpose-Driven Marketing Have a Place in Your Marketing Mix?

Purpose-Driven Marketing: It’s a term that’s heating up this year, along with phrases like mission-driven marketing. These buzzwords refer to a rising trend that combines social good with corporate motivation. Companies are finding ways to serve real needs in the market, while also addressing challenges or making meaningful contributions to the world.

One well-known example is Tom’s Shoes, which gives a pair of shoes to a needy recipient for each pair of shoes it sells. However, there are numerous companies that are blending for-profit and nonprofit motives. What do company leaders need to know about whether this is the right choice for their business?

Sometimes It’s Your DNA; Sometimes It’s Marketing

In the example noted above, the whole business model of the company was predicated around using profit to help drive a social cause. However, many companies are increasingly focusing on corporate social responsibility as a way to give back to their customers and community. While nonprofit motivations may not be as deeply embedded in the DNA of a company, it can still reflect a core component of their mission and values. For example, creative companies like Adobe® have a robust corporate sustainability division that focuses on providing support to emerging filmmakers and other creative talents. By choosing a worthy cause that helps further align them with their customer base, companies can make a significant impact—while also growing their brand with potential buyers.

Choose Something that Resonates with Your Brand

For many marketing leaders, one of the key questions to consider when thinking about mission-driven marketing or corporate social responsibility is how to select a cause. Some aspects to consider include:

  • How does the cause or issue align with your company’s core value proposition or premise?
  • Will the issue resonate with your customers or prospective customers?
  • How will supporting this particular issue reflect positively on your brand in the media, market, or general community?

While every brand wants to make a positive contribution, it’s important to make sure your choices resonate with both your brand values and your customers. The best choices in regards to corporate social responsibility or mission-driven marketing align your business goals and your community with your company’s desire to do good. Choosing the right cause is the foundation of a successful effort.

Think About How You’ll Measure ROI

Every marketing initiative must be evaluated through the lens of its potential return on investment. However, purpose-driven marketing has a form of ROI that is different from that which is inherent with something like content marketing or a social media campaign. While it is unlikely to directly drive sales, it can have a significant impact on aspects such as your brand’s visibility or public sentiment about how you appear in the marketplace. As a result, before embarking on a mission-driven marketing program, it’s important to determine how you will measure ROI. Some potential strategies include:

  • Brand-related improvements such as increased visibility or positive sentiment
  • Media coverage or social media engagement promoting your work
  • Increased standing as an influencer in the community
  • Improved employee morale and engagement
  • Networking or strategic partner development with key influencers or organizations

While these are not the only ways to measure ROI, they provide examples of different factors companies can consider. What’s important is that you begin your initiative with an awareness of how you will define its success and with a framework in place so you can go back and analyze the results in the future.

Ultimately, it’s possible to do well and to do good. Companies that dedicate a portion of their time, talent, and profits to helping address social issues can make a big difference in the world. At the same time, doing so can also raise your brand profile, positively engage customers, and establish meaningful partnerships, which can help grow the business in unexpected ways.