August 1, 2013
Consumers are presented with seemingly limitless opportunities for spending their money: brick-and-mortar, Amazon, Apple, Zappos, and more. How do you set your company apart from the rest? How do you convince potential customers to choose your business over all the other options? How do you differentiate in what feels like an overwhelming sea of sameness? These are questions every successful business leader asks at one time or another. And the answer to these overarching questions begins with one word: purpose.
As a company, what you do is important, but why you do it is truly the most significant aspect of your brand. Your company’s purpose — the reason you are in business — is what sets you apart from the masses. A concrete purpose allows customers to feel emotionally connected to your business, which can improve the likelihood of them choosing you over a standard competitor. A purpose gives you and your team focus; without a clear, defined purpose, a company is often pulled in so many different directions as it grows that it loses sight of its original goals and intentions (um…Netflix?).
You get it, right? Having a purpose is pretty important. Now, the next challenge is determining what your brand represents. To do this, you must now define your company’s purpose, or “movement,” and then shout it from the rooftops to the world. Feel daunting? Fortunately, there are four easy steps to achieving each of these.
Defining Your Company’s Purpose
Understanding your company’s movement is like peeling back the layers of an onion — you must go beyond the surface to get clarity on what really matters. Complete this work and you will open the doors and inspire anyone who comes in contact with your business. To determine what drives your company, contemplate these four elements:
1. Find Your Personal Purpose
Personal purpose describes what you see as important on a personal level, as well as the reasons behind the decisions you make daily. What inspires or motivates you to do the work you do? What change do you want to create in the world? What gets you out of bed each morning? Evaluating what you see as your purpose in life allows you to recognize what you hope to achieve through your business and the work you do every day.
2. Define Your Core Values
Core values are a set of principles that reflect what’s truly important to you. How do you make decisions? How do you treat people? What influences the way you see the world?
Once you answer these questions on a personal level, translate those values into a business mindset. For example, if you hold true to the “don’t follow the herd” mantra, that could translate into “Give yourself permission to stand out” in the business world.
3. Create a Reference Point
Your reference point speaks to the way both you and your customers see the world. This is crucial for helping you define the language of your business and connect with your customers. What are their world views? What do they care about? How do they speak about their lives, and what types of words do they use to describe them?
Many businesses do not put enough consideration into these questions, which is why they fall flat when trying to engage with their audience. Decide what you consider important — like success or integrity, for example — and determine whether you and your customer would define those things the same way.
4. Consider the Big Picture
The big picture is about getting clarity on what it all means by evaluating the results of the previous questions. What stories emerge from these considerations? What message do you have to send out into the world? When you’re able to look at your purpose, core values, and reference points and see the picture they create, you’re able to find a powerful way to share your story.
Once you’ve determined your company’s movement, the next step is sharing this information with customers — and potential customers — in a meaningful and effective way.
Communicate Your Purpose Online
An online presence is now the fastest way to promote your business, and when it is done in a thoughtful manner, it can have an enormously positive impact. Take advantage of the countless opportunities to reach customers online through the following steps:
1. Create a Manifesto
A manifesto is a story that shares your company’s viewpoints with your customers. It not only highlights what your company does, but it also emphasizes the reasons you do the work you do. Put your manifesto on your website in a manner that will grab your readers’ attention. If you don’t think you can eloquently express what needs to be said, seek the assistance of a contract company to help you reach your customers in an effective way.
2. Reiterate Your Purpose in Communication
From blog posts to newsletters, constantly reiterate your company’s purpose. Share stories of clients or information in the news that exemplify the motivation behind, or the impact of, your movement. Ultimately, this will result in customers associating your purpose with your product, which adds validity and credibility to your business, helps people better connect, and moves you from being seen as a commodity to becoming what is called a “category of one.”
3. Ignite Interest through Social Media
Social media has become one of the easiest ways to connect with people online and educate them on what you believe in. Use Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to post stories, achievements, pictures, or even thought-provoking comments or questions, and invite others to share their opinions and comments with you.
4. Expand Your Horizons
Broaden the tactics you use to connect with customers beyond traditional, commercial-based methods. Speak at conventions. Write print or online articles. Participate in online panels. Create an instructional video that can be posted on YouTube. Find creative ways to move beyond the office and tell the world what you stand for. Ideas that matter can spread, but they won’t if they’re stuck in your head.
The only way to overcome being considered a commodity is to give your customers a reason to care about you. Defining your company’s purpose will give you and your team focus and inspiration, and it will provide your customers with a new understanding of your ethics and relevance. Show them what you care about and demonstrate a commitment to those ideals, and the money will follow.
Matthew Goldfarb is a professional copywriter who has spent the past 12 years creating award winning ad campaigns for some of the largest companies in the world. Now, he is bringing those same concepts to small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere through his company, Corporate Renegade. Connect with Matthew on Twitter and Google+.
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