Show us your purpose and we’ll show you a willing customer

Our Managing Director, Anne Parsons, explores why partnership marketing is the most effective way to show brand purpose

Show us your purpose and we’ll show you a willing customer

Aimless conversations.
Repeated statements that increasingly do not ring true.
Promises that sound great but you wonder how they will be delivered.
Sounds like the worst of human interactions, right?

Because it seems cheap, reeks of insincerity and more than anything else, it’s a waste of time.

And there is the thing – time is precious. We all think about how to fulfil our lives by caring about what we “put in” and hoping to “get out” something more. We have one universal commodity – time. We have it in varying degrees so we want to make sure that we maximise it – and to be clear about the best use of our time we effectively decide our purpose. The reason that we do what we do. And our behaviours need to match that purpose or it’s no purpose at all.

Effective marketing emulates real life. Purpose behind your actions and words engenders belief and support. A brand that has real purpose is just that for a customer – something we can believe has a value and would like to support.

Purpose is actually quite personal – that is where it strikes a true chord. And that is the marketing challenge. For a brand it is harder to genuinely communicate purpose with a big,shiny tv ad, or a video stream or a stunning headline. In the same way that devoting your time to homeless people is not made better by telling everyone about it, or spruiking stories of what this means to you. But if you are seen in action genuinely pursuing this purpose through what you are doing and how you are doing it then your purpose is understood loud and clear.

In order for a purpose to work it requires a clear connection between the brand, its reason for being and how that reason is communicated to customers.

It requires a more organic and real communication with the consumer and that is the natural domain of partnerships. Partnerships allow that communication to happen with more relevance than a conventional sponsorship including the associated bells and whistles, more genuinely than native content despite its perfect prose and with more inspiration than an artfully orchestrated sound track.

Well considered and sensitively crafted brand partnerships are capable of actually demonstrating brand purpose – showing the customer why they are doing what they are doing. And in those actions the ability to communicate to a customer beyond the product and its inherent benefits, or the price and its relative value but what the brand has as its purpose propels it forward in the consumer’s mind and consequently in their purchase behavior. Which is why the purpose lead behavior of a brand, and its articulation via partnerships, is proving to have a tangible commercial value.

This is true of brands striving for social change and happens to perfectly meet the expectations of a younger audience demanding greater CSR. Look at what Patagonia are doing for global environment. But it is equally true of any brand because purpose is fundamental to clear positioning and clear positioning is essential to differentiation. We can see it working with something like AirBNB where the brand is not about accommodation competing with all the category players, it is about making people from around the world feel like they can belong anywhere.

This purpose lead approach is vindicated in a recent HBR study where 85% were in strong agreement that they were more likely to recommend a company with a strong and clear purpose. And a similar overwhelming percentage agreeing that purpose is a transformative lever for a brand.

A partnership curated on shared purpose will speak loads to the consumer through actions not words. And when that happens, you have yourself a willing and engaged customer.

by Anne Parsons

Managing Director, Cherry London
First woman inducted into the Media Hall of Fame for Melbourne Media 2016 and  Media Federation 2017