August 14, 2022
There are people that make a business out of selling anything—no matter what it is—to audiences—no matter who they are. And to those people, I wish God Speed.
But if you are a business leader and your entire focus is on selling something, whether that be a product, service, or idea, then your marketing and communications is going to have to work extremely hard.
That is because basically everyone out there is focused on selling something. So you’ll be sharing the crowded bus with them, shouting above voices that are also shouting, and fighting to get out of the crammed back row. With enough time, effort, and money you’ll eventually make it.
We are in a new era of business. Some cynics call it late-stage capitalism. Others refer to it as the global economy. Or the post-information age. Whatever you call it, we are in a time when really good marketing is just table stakes.
Marketing Savvy is No Longer a Competitive Advantage
Everyone is good at it. Everyone from influencers and neighborhood pizza places to Fortune 100 companies are all doing their best to be heard and to influence the minds and decisions of their audiences.
The new economy—the new world of business—whatever we call it, has to necessarily filter through the noise of billions of voices crying out all at once to buy their thing.
They do that by finding voices with purpose and ignoring all others.
And why not? There is no shortage of businesses in basically any category under the sun. There are no geographical boundaries. People can choose to listen to or buy from basically anyone on the planet at any time. Businesses can no longer influence people to make decisions, they can only make people aware that they exist.
But who cares if a business exists?
Do you honestly stand in line at the grocery store and think to yourself, “I’m sure glad I know Mr. Pibb made me aware that I have the option to buy them.”
Or when you clear out some of your five hundred emails are you overjoyed that “Martin” from “newSAASTech.com” can help you “engage” with “consumers” for just a small sum a month?
Of course not.
We don’t care. No one cares about businesses…
Unless that business has a purpose we can get behind.
Look around at the brands you actively follow, whether it be a business services company or a fast food company. Not necessarily the ones you use or consume, but the ones you actively and consciously listen to and care about. What do they have in common?
They have a purpose.
A Tale of Two Coffees (Or The Key To Successful Marketing)
I can and do buy Folgers coffee. It gets the job done. I’ll even get a big container and keep it stashed for the inevitable weekend need. But when a Folgers commercial comes on, I actively dismiss it, ignore it, or zone out.
Conversely, I subscribe to coffee from La Colombe. It probably costs too much, but I don’t notice. I eagerly open the packages when they come in and make sure that the recent shipment is always a back-up for the bag I’m currently working on. I read the packaging to find out where these particular beans came from and how they were roasted. I read every email they send me.
What’s the difference?
Quality? Maybe. I mean, I don’t know. Ultimately it all takes like coffee. Is the quality SO MUCH BETTER that I have to follow La Colombe actively and like their Facebook posts? No, it’s not that much better. It’s good, but that isn’t reason enough.
Marketing? No, definitely not. Folgers has marketing in the bag. They know what they are doing have known for generations. La Colombe is scrappy with comparatively nothing for a budget.
Price? Nope. I have no idea what I’m paying for La Colombe and certainly would never go “hmm” on a cost comparison with Folgers.
The difference is vision.
La Colombe wants to make coffee ethical and give small coffee-suppliers all over the world a channel so they can thrive against monoliths like Folgers.
They have a purpose. They are trying to make the world better by making their industry better. They are using the force of business for good.
It’s in their actual mission statement: “to make the world better through coffee.”
What does Folgers care about? Why do they exist? I don’t know, I couldn’t find their mission statement. They have a whole bunch on their website about legacy. They may actually have a whole plan on bettering the world with coffee. I wouldn’t know, I just know they think they are awesome because they’ve been around so long.
I don’t mean to rag on Folgers. They’re a perfectly respectable company. And I like their coffee. But I’m trying to make a point. When we have all the coffee in the world at our finger tips, who are we going to choose?
Business Needs to Be About Something Bigger Than Yourself
Now it comes down to this. Before you do anything else with your marketing. Before you put out another press release, write another email newsletter, put out another Facebook post, before you do any of that—identify what your purpose is.
But there’s a catch. Your purpose has to be real. Not just marketing garbage. It needs to be authentically you.
It also can’t be about you.
Your purpose needs to be about your community, your industry, your world. It needs to be external. Yes you may have shareholders and profits to worry about, but that can’t be your purpose. Not truly.
Your purpose needs to use business for good in the exact way you are able to do so.
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