By Amanda Ponzar
This week I’m posting the article “Purpose-Driven Marketing” by my friend Edward Martin, Director Marketing Excellence and CSR Insights at The Hershey Company and Katya Andresen, Chief Operating Officer, Network for Good. This article previously appeared on Network for Good’s blog and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center's blog.
As mentioned in my post last week, Ed’s doing some great work helping companies use marketing surveys to raise funds for nonprofits. Check it out and think about how you can be more innovative in the way you use your resources, engage your customers, and do good while doing well.
How to win by letting others win -- using market research and insight
I. Why Purpose-Driven marketing
As marketers, we spend billions of dollars each year trying to understand consumers all over the world. We spend over a trillion dollars then trying to influence these same consumers through the various tools we have in our marketing arsenal.
Unfortunately, it’s harder and harder to do both.
Few consumers want to take the time to take a research survey; many skip the ads on their DVR or are distracted with multi-tasking. They are increasingly resistant to the interruption of conventional marketing, and they are adept at filtering the messages they receive. We are being ignored.
We are also being challenged. “The people formerly known as the audience,” as Jay Rosen calls our targets, are not passive consumers awaiting our messages; they are often participants in the message, and the rise of social media provides them growing control in the marketplace.
So what is a marketer to do to forge connections in this inhospitable environment?
The experts are telling us we need to step back from our conventional practices and take a larger view of what connects us all to build a deeper basis for engagement. A study of 27 national brands from Princeton University and The Relational Capital Group recently found that consumers build loyalty to brands in the same way that they do other people, instinctively judging and building commitment to them based on their warmth and competence. In addition, two specific elements of brand warmth, “is honest and trustworthy” and “acts in the customer’s best interests,” were far more effective at building brand loyalty than all other competence elements combined. In short, when a company seeks to contribute not only to shareholders but also a broader purpose, consumers begin to experience a greater bond with that brand.
Our profession has become increasingly aware of this fact over the decades. The Hershey Company founder Milton S. Hershey is one early example. Over 100 years ago he gave all his money away to an orphan school and until this day a significant amount of every dollar made from selling Hershey products goes to children at risk at the school he created. For years, many businesses have successfully enhanced their brand by contributing a portion of sales to charities, from Susan G Komen to the Global Fund for AIDS (RED).
But this is the time in history where conditions demand more than conventional CSR or co-branding. It’s marketing reinvented as the co-creation of brand and social good. Simon Mainwaring, an award-winning creative director, calls this the “We First” approach in his new book of the same name. We call it “purpose-driven marketing.”
“Corporations need to allow consumers to co-create their brands, invite consumers to help them with causes, build social capital with consumers, and reach out to consumers allowing them to vote for the brand every day,” Mainwaring says.
The “We First” approach has many of advantages in the current cold marketing climate:
- It allows consumers to participate and feel a sense of relationship with brands
- The participation comes in the form of contributing to a collective, greater good
- That social impact promotes consumer loyalty and goodwill
- Companies drive results on the bottom line –- but also social good
The time could not be better for a “We First” approach with consumers. Technology and globalization have underlined how much we are connected and how much we are in need. From the young people creating www.dosomething.org to AARP's www.createthegood.org and everywhere in between -- people of all ages are showing renewed interest in social good.
Many of those people work for companies. While beyond the scope of this paper, it’s important to note that purpose-driven marketing isn’t only about creating deeper connections with consumers – its benefits accrue to the people making those connections happen. Daniel Pink has shown a “purpose motive” is a one of the most powerful forces for employee satisfaction and creativity in companies. As he notes in his book, Drive: “Traditional businesses have long considered purpose ornamental, but that’s changing, thanks in part to the rising tide of aging baby boomers reckoning with their own mortality… Within organizations, this new ‘purpose motive’ is expressing itself ... in goals that use profit to reach purpose. This move to accompany profit maximization with purpose maximization has the potential to rejuvenate our businesses and remake our world.”
In other words, the “We First” approach makes for a happy marketer in addition to better marketing.
II. How to do purpose-driven marketing
One of the best ways to move to purpose-driven marketing is to start it at the earliest stages of the marketing process: in our consumer research. This has several advantages: it turns research into an engagement tool and force for good, and it gives consumers a positive reason to help shape brands by sharing their attitudes and beliefs about them.
Following are several ways to do this, the first being a relatively simple initial step and the others increasingly significant in their impact.
1. Conducting online research to benefit good causes
Billions are spent in "points" and online incentives to get people to take market research surveys. This fails to compel most people to want to participate. But there are some new initiatives, including www.researchforgood.com in partnership with networkforgood.org, “Pause to Support a Cause,” and www.surveyforgood.org. They all allow companies to field surveys to support the cause of a consumer’s choice. The consumer takes a survey, and the incentive is a donation to whichever cause is closest to that person’s heart. The very act of gleaning consumer insights becomes an engagement for social good.
So if a person waiting for a friend at Starbucks wants to help with the devastation of malaria killing children every day, they can qualify for being part of a survey and then spend 10 minutes taking that survey before their friend arrives -- enough to buy a malaria net to save a child's life - not a bad way to spend 10 minutes waiting for a friend.
Augmenting points based sample with other incentive based sample will make the total sample more projective, higher quality and bring in many hard to reach groups that marketers have a difficult time connecting to -- all while helping people in need.
In addition, researchforgood.com and networkforgood.org are partnering to place polls on charities’ websites with the same result in mind: consumers weigh in, companies gain insights and causes get resources for their missions.
2. Conducting offline research in partnership with good causes
The next type of engagement brings social good into offline research.
Imagine spending three hours with 300 children and 150 parents doing quantitative and qualitative research in a city of choice for $15k -- where most of that money goes to helping poor children!!
The Doug Pitt Care to Learn foundation model and their enormous community network (including groups such as www.sife.org) -- provides access to consumers and a facility for conducting research in the very place the community mobilizes. You can use your preferred market research supplier to conduct the research and write the report, but by lowering the costs of recruiting subjects and hosting focus groups, you save money –- while doing good.
This is another win-win: consumer research for a fraction of the price – all while contributing to a positive social impact and lending a halo effect to your brand.
3. Partnering to engage harder to reach communities
What if you are doing ethnographies or research in places as diverse as the South Bronx to Moscow to Beijing to Nairobi?
We have partnered with top organizations and non-profits that are a part of these communities and live in these areas to achieve these ends (e.g. healthpeople.org in the South Bronx, sife.org in China, Russia, Mexico, US and even William Morris Endeavor Foundation in Compton). The idea is simple yet powerful: Work with communities who best know their peers to gain insights while supporting the community at the same time.
This approach is far more reliable and constructive and yet less expensive than conventional approaches. It taps resident expertise, uncovers cultural idiosyncrasies and allows for continuity and commitment to the market for follow-up research and ongoing positive social impact. Everyone wins.
For example, if you were seeking to reach the African American community with important products/services and would like to conduct research, co-innovate products and partner for selling these products, you could partner with
Pat Ware (President and CEO of Shiloh International Productions), who works closely with National Coalition of Pastors Spouses. This group of 3000 churches is dedicated to the health and wellness of the African American community, especially in urban areas. You could partner to innovate and optimize products while supporting health and wellness in the community. This approach greatly increase the odds that you place the right product and services with the right people in an effective and meaningful way.
In another example, Ashoka.org often works with traditional trade stores and businesses in developing markets to support training to improve quality of life and community -- and for a simple funding trade to continue to help this work, they can often allow a company to partner with these stores to test new products, pricing, pos etc. Instead of spending a year and massive amount of time and money creating your own store test lab one, could simply donate to Ashoka to leverage their infrastructure, sustain their work, conduct research and tests and build relationships with store keepers who appreciate the brand’s positive role in their life and community.
4. Partnering to uncover trends
Purpose-driven marketing and nonprofit partnerships can also uncover trends early.
For example, ghettofilms.org in NYC teaches talented youth from tough neighborhoods the art of film. As trends often start among youth in urban areas, support of the project is an excellent way not only to accomplish social good but also to gain valuable insights through narrative and film.
Or, what if you wanted to reach Millennial opinion-leaders? The Global Poverty Project (www.GlobalPovertyProject.com) uses offline and online community organizing techniques to engage students in a global movement to end poverty. They connect with youth audiences via live interactive presentations in colleges throughout the US, UK and Australia. And they deepen engagement via the Commitment Journey, an online platform powered by Qindred Research. Global Poverty Project is chaired by Debra Lee Furness, wife of Hugh Jackman, who is actively involved as well as public spokesman for the organization.
III. How to apply purpose-driven marketing to good causes
Marketing professionals not only have much to gain from purpose-driven marketing; We also have much to give. Our marketing efforts can become an even greater force for good if we apply our expertise not only to our products but also to the missions of the causes we support.
The biggest problem for good causes worldwide is a lack of resources, and one of the reasons nonprofits are continually scrambling for support is they don’t have marketing skills. They lack a basic knowledge of how to use audience insights and marketing savvy to compel people to take action or support their missions.
We know how to do that, and there are hundreds of thousands of nonprofits that would like our advice. That’s the idea behind Research without Limits, co-founded by Ed Martin, Robert Barooci (CEO Advertising Research Foundation) and Katya Andresen (COO of Network for Good and author of Robin Hood Marketing). Research without Limits is seeking to:
1.) Connect top researchers and other marketing professionals with Network for Good’s community of 150,000 nonprofit professionals in need of basic training in research and engagement. Marketing professionals can lead a webinar for 2,000 nonprofits marketers or contribute to Network for Good’s tools and templates aimed at teaching nonprofits how to better connect to their audiences to effect social change. A few hours of your time could transform the programs and outreach of hundreds of great causes, transforming thousands of lives.
2) Share non-proprietary research from around the world with causes that need consumer insights to better design programs and reach supporters. The research could inform everything from AIDS prevention campaigns in Africa to fundraising efforts in Pennsylvania.
As companies, we know and understand markets and how to measure impact -- this is something fundamental we need to share with our non-profit and humanitarian partners.
IV. Beyond Research
Research is an excellent place to start these initiatives, but ultimately, all marketing efforts can benefit from a purpose-driven approach, whether it’s incenting consumers to watch your ad, send an e-coupon, friend your facebook page, or trying your product. Frankly the Marketing side of this equation dwarfs the research side in potential impact for win/win!
The bottom line is to cut through the clutter and make any engagement effective we need to have the win-win mindset we advocate in this paper. By driving our P&L with purpose-driven efforts now -- when consumers want it and technology enables it –we will reap rapid, significant and collective benefit.
The last reason to pursue purpose-driven marketing now is that our own colleagues want these approaches as well. As we noted at the outset of this paper, finding greater meaning in our work is something we crave. And when we achieve it, we thrive right along with our companies.
If you agree, become an advocate. Shoot for 5% or 10% of your budget to be spent in this win/win way!
If you’re not yet an advocate, consider an experiment. A pilot in one or more of these areas we’ve described here is a chance to establish proof of concept –- while doing a little good in the world at the same time. Pick a small scale study that has a low incidence (i.e., hard to find) target segment. Identify what business questions you wish the study to address. Decide if you want to handle this effort entirely on your own or as a sample supplement with a research company handling all of the work. Determine if you want to reach out to one of the organizations mentioned in this white paper (e.g., Research for Good, www.networkforgood.org) to find out how to best find your low incidence target audience. Or do some research on your own to find nonprofits with complementary audiences and aims.
While our jobs are becoming more challenging, this challenge –- purpose-driven marketing -– makes our work worthwhile. We can do well and do good, together.