Not just because it's the right thing to do or because it looks good but because more and more it is what the consumer demands. It's time to make purpose a positioning strategy for your business in 2019.
The Barrier To Purpose Is Small
Don't be intimidated by the resources of larger organizations. As a startup you may not be able to create Red Nose Day and that's alright.
"Whether it is the simple act of buying a Red Nose at Walgreens, donating during the NBC TV Special or contributing to a friend's online fundraiser, these acts of everyday giving are empowering-particularly when you feel you are part of something bigger," said Janet Scardino, Chief Executive Officer of Comic Relief Inc.
Impact is most valuable on a one-to-one level. So focus on truly changing lives even if that's only in the tens or hundreds.
"The new power model has reshaped politics, business and society and helped accelerate the embrace of smaller individual gifts," said Henry Timms, executive director of 92nd Street Y, founder of #GivingTuesday, and author of New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World--and How to Make It Work for You. "We focus so much attention and press on the mega-donor, but the great achievement of philanthropy actually comes from everyday community giving."
And that's a community you can create with your small business. So focus on something year-round and specific. The data is proving that small, incremental work around purpose is creating dividends.
"Now more than ever, people expect organizations and brands to make a difference and stand for something. Companies can unlock reputational gains by leading with purpose. Our 2018 Purpose study shows that Americans believe it is important for companies to not only act responsibly, but also give back," says Brad MacAfee, partner and chief executive officer, Porter Novelli. "Movements like Giving Tuesday afford us the opportunity to work together in small but meaningful ways, in order to effect change on a global scale and make a lasting impact on society."
Practically Applying Purpose To Startups
But as an entrepreneur or startup you're looking for an advantage 24/7. And you're seeing this pop up in industries you normally wouldn't expect. The business of payment processing is high volume, high competition, low margins. Most companies are fighting for business by sharing a fraction of a cent less than their customer.
But when I was researching that space I saw a growing company, Datamotio, going in the opposite direction. Their appeal to large brands isn't price but purpose. "If you keep fighting in a crowded space for a fraction of a cent, you're going to lose. So find a different path," said Erik Post, CEO, Datamotio. "With Charge2Change we partner with our companies to donate 10 percent of profit back to a place that truly matters for them."
If your industry doesn't historically have loyalty, you have to give brands a reason be loyal. By partnering with them to create purpose program it's mutually beneficial. They have a story to tell and you've just made a relationship hard to break. So even if you're a cent or two higher, you won't lose that client.
Creating real and lasting programs make it easy for people to define you. And if you want to make sure your clients or consumers won't leave, strengthening the bond through purpose is a great way.
Where To Find Purpose
Start with what you think will matter most to the client you're seeking. Do the research. And then seek out resources in the non-profit world that will know where and how to create the greatest impact.
Don't be afraid to bring a third party to the table if your expertise isn't in creating purpose infrastructure.
Komal Ahmad, founder of Copia, created a for-profit technology company connecting businesses with excess food to people in need. In the U.S., 40 percent of all food ends up in the trash-enough food to feed America's hungry population three times over.
"It's not a lack of food that's the issue, rather, an ineffective distribution of that food. Hunger is not a scarcity problem, it's a logistics problem, said Ahmad. "Our platform works in real-time to connect businesses with surplus food to those who need it most, all while helping businesses understand and reduce their food waste with AI-driven predictive analytics."
Copia's technology will feed 2 million people this year and they're just getting started.
The biggest is key in 2019 is to start positioning with purpose. Big or small, this should be considered the "6th P of marketing" along with price, product, promotion, place, people.