Without Purpose, You’re Hurting Your Product, Your Brand, and Yourself
As marketers, we are continuously navigating corporate decision-making processes and applying the right level of political savviness to win favor, build new brands, and, hopefully, create the next breakthrough product. We’re doing this amid the rapidly changing pace of marketing practices, technologies, and expectations of marketers as growth-driven magic makers.
Yet how often do we find ourselves in seemingly meaningless meetings trying to figure out how to design the right cap for a bottle of hard kombucha or becoming mired in corporate quicksand, be it discussing remote work, furloughs, overtime, or new leadership, or having a random colleague overexplain how paid social media marketing should be done?
If you feel the tug of war between spending time on activities with little meaning or direction and that pang of insecurity about keeping your skills in line with market expectations, you may be struggling with a lack of professional brand purpose.
And a lack of professional purpose from marketers, who are the brand stewards in the organization, can have a direct and negative impact on fostering trust for your organization’s brands.
In fact, O.C. Tanner, an employee rewards and recognition firm, affirms through its surveys of US-based employees during the pandemic, that we have lost engagement, purpose, and belief in brands. If a company furloughed employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a 91 percent decline in employee Net Promoter Score, a 57 percent increase in disengagement, and a 42 percent increase in a tense workplace atmosphere.
It’s safe to say that the last thing any employee needs these days is more tension.
And consumers are watching. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, nearly one-third of global consumers surveyed indicate they trust brands with happy employees who are treated well, along with those that address consumer needs and issues quickly. Unfortunately, brands like McDonald’s, Perdue Foods, Instacart, and others with workers walking out in protest of safety measures are feeling the negative impacts of high-profile, consumer-driven social media and media coverage.
As marketers, we may suffer silently in our offices, but as brand stewards who are stressed, bogged down in politics, concerned about expectations of marketers, and working with lost purpose, there’s no question that we are impacting brand health and trust. Take the time to reflect upon the following and take action:
1. Review your own brand purpose and that of the brand you represent
A brand purpose is a brand’s reason for being, beyond making money. It’s the ‘Why?’ behind the brand, the soul of your organization – it engages consumers on an emotional level through shared beliefs, solved problems, and distilled meaning. It drives business, benefits people, and makes society better. Ask these questions about your own brand:
- What’s your professional reason for being – beyond making money?
- What’s the ‘Why?’ – why do you do what you do?
- How strongly do you feel the ‘Why?’ in your soul?
- How does your purpose show up with others? Does it create emotional bonds and connections?
- How are you making the business, people, and society better?
- How do these answers align with your organization or product brand?
2. Reflect upon your own level of motivation
We know that products that don’t have top management support have a greater likelihood of failure.
How motivated are you to advocate for your brand – the amount of time top management spends, the dollars and resources allocated, and building belief that there is potential for your product or company?
3. Complete your own skills gap analysis and get creative with development
According to a UK study of 109 marketing bosses, only 37% said that their current team had the skill set to deliver what’s needed. Let’s try and turn this pitiful number around and ensure that we not only bolster that statistic but play an integral part in the transformation.
Take a piece of paper and split it into two sections. On one side, write down all of the things that are unique about your methods and approach, your current skill set, and your beliefs and background. On the other side, assess what the current demands of marketers include. Here’s a hint on where to go to learn about current demands: do some listening with your Personal Board of Directors.
Not all skill-building needs to happen in a classroom or through online learning (though there are plenty of great programs). If the market is calling for someone with experience with demand generation, consider engaging a non-competing, early-stage company to mobilize their efforts for a few months. Or, if there are certain leadership acumen areas to bolster, consider serving the board of directors of non-profits – it’s not only good for the skill-building, it’s an important contribution to society.
4. Review how you spend your time and adjust so that it’s as purposeful as possible
How and where you spend your time sends a direct, non-verbal message about what’s important to you. We all know the feeling: It can be absolutely invigorating if you are contributing and advancing the brand.
Conversely, it can be downright draining if you are installing new brand merchandising materials in the middle of the night at a retailer in the middle of nowhere. That’s not to say we should avoid rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty, but unless you are a crisis manager, the goal is to be intentional about how much time you spend on tasks and activities that drive your purpose and that of the company’s brand.
5. Remember the link between purpose, health, and well-being
Professional purpose and self-esteem are closely related and essential to good mental health. Finding the time to decompress and regroup, getting a good night’s sleep, and regular exercise, will regenerate your purpose and motivation. Staying awake at night thinking about what you need to do the next day isn’t productive; in fact, insomnia in the US workforce costs businesses more than $63 billion in lost productivity each year.
A financial services marketer found herself burned out, lacking motivation, and dreading the amount of work destined for her desk. She was ready to quit – which would have left her team in a lurch and potentially compromised the commercialization of a new, market-critical product.
A good night’s sleep, a few days away from work, and changing up her daily routine (exercising in the morning rather than at night, changing the positioning of her desk in her home office, breaking for tea with her daughter each day at 3 pm) helped her regain her perspective and purpose.
She ultimately rallied to deliver a successful product launch.
In the end, it comes down to your professional purpose, the consumer and market needs, and everyone’s frenemy – time. How you spend it, where and when you spend it, and how much of it is applied to keeping skills fresh, is not only mission-critical for your company and its brands, it’s even more important for the best brand of all: you.
Once you manage that successfully, everything else will fall nicely into place.