purpose driven marketing

It is essential that your organisation is purpose driven for a whole lot of reasons, and a fundamental point being: purpose really equals profits. It’s hard to keep staff engaged and it’s hard to be relevant in the marketplace without a purpose now, it’s so important.

I’ve got cystic fibrosis in my family, a recessive gene. And when these two recessive genes come together and boy meets girl, you end up with a child with cystic fibrosis. Now it’s a huge problem, although it’s getting better and better for cystic fibrosis sufferers. And we’ve got two relatives in the family now with CF. Now, I recall when that diagnosis came through and I learnt of my niece having CF and it’s really tough news. And so the family really have gone on a journey or really my brother and sister in law have gone on a massive journey and we’ve been witness to it. But I do recall, as my brother and sister have become prominent in the CF community and got to know a lot of families, they were in a position really to help another family because if you’ve got CF, you’ve got major lung problems, so you need to need to be exercising, you need to be moving, you need to be shaking up your lungs to get the knock all the mucus off your lungs.

My dad’s a pool builder and so is my brother. So they were in a position to give away a swimming pool to a family with a newly born baby. Now, that really came from the heart. It was an essential exercise opportunity, really, for that baby and for that family to keep their child moving, to be as healthy as possible, to fight through CF and be in great shape in order to receive medication. Now, whilst that was a gift from the heart to another family, from a marketing and PR point of view, you could call it purpose driven PR or purpose driven marketing because here you are as a business, taking out of your own bottom line and your own pocket to help another family.

Now it’s the right thing to do. It feels good because we really do live in a community, not an economy. When you think about it, we’re all human beings who love and want to be loved. So here we are, my brother and father, building a pool for a family who was struggling.It was a good thing to do. They did it from their heart.

Now it’s not a systemised thing that they always do through the year or in every year, but I would propose it should be because purpose driven marketing or purpose driven businesses end up becoming industry leaders. So as we stand here in 2023, he got Gen Z looking for their first jobs and they are looking for companies that stand for something, they’re not really interested in working somewhere where you’ve got some boss somewhere being rich or profits going offshore.

So the whole world’s becoming more heart centered, more progressive. So we need to adapt as business people at the same time. So it makes marketing sense, but also makes sense to your bottom line. So think how you could stand for something in your organisation much greater than just making profit.

I was just at a talk recently and I met the CEO and founder of Who Gives a Crap, Who Gives a Crap is a very innovative organization who manufactures toilet paper. Half of their profits go offshore to help build toilets in third world countries. Now, that’s terrific. Who Gives a Crap, has a huge purpose and it attracts staff attracted to that purpose, it has high staff retention, they’re highly engaged, they’re very innovative, and they’ve driven that business to some heights.

Amazingly, not long ago they gave away something like $11 million worth of profit. Now that’s half of their profits, right? So they’re still doing very well as an organization. But this 11 mil now goes to third world countries to create sanitization and to build toilets and really to save lives, it’s super powerful. So who gives a crap? And you look at my business, Good Talent Media exists to help not for profits, get their messages across in the media. Now that simply comes from my time as a journo. Did most of my years in newsrooms at the ABC and at the SBS. As you know, they campaign and advocate for people who are struggling. So most of my contact list and people that I knew coming out of news were from the not for profit sector. It was quite natural for me then to go on to help them. So just so happens my purpose is internally built. I didn’t have to think about it too much, but even in working in the not for profit sector, you know you’ve got $200 million not for profits. So a lot of nonprofits are quite corporatised, which is great.

So as part of our purpose driven marketing and PR or translated part of our culture and leadership, we do a lot of pro bono work for organisations that can’t afford anything. So PR plans, digital audits, etcetera. We’re happy to do it. Now, why do I do it? Because I believe in it. But my staff really believe in it as well. They want to be in an organization that does PR with newsrooms and mind, that has heart centered motivation and action. So I think it helps with staff attraction, staff retention, but it does lead to relationships that could end up being profitable relationships anyway. So that sometimes happens as well.

I want you to think deeply about your organisation, your business journey, your career as a CEO. Where is the purpose in your PR? Where is the purpose in your culture? How can you find it? It’s much better if you find the purpose from your heart. If it comes from your heart, fantastic. But if it’s just as simple as you attending Pink Ribbon Day or it’s as simple as you getting involved with all the different cancer causes that we have in the country, that’s a start. And it’s not just about donating money, it’s about getting your staff involved.

Find a personal purpose for your business beyond profits, I think you’ll get a lot of benefit out of that. Culturally, you can connect in different ways and the profits will follow anyway.

Unfortunately or otherwise, people do think profits are a dirty word, and I think educating them around the realities of that and how tough business is is a good thing. And then showing your workforce that you’re a purpose driven person, that you’re a human being, you’ve got a heart, you do hurt, you do care for things, and maybe directing your organisation towards some sort of purpose or vision. I think you’ll see a lot of benefits.

Staff love it, clients love it as well. So not only are you dealing, you’re trying to impress and retain staff, you’re trying to attract clients. Now clients or customers can spend money wherever they like. They prefer to spend money with purpose driven organizations. Something to think about. If you don’t have a purpose already, think about brainstorming, getting your team involved, getting some butcher’s paper out because purpose driven PR and marketing really is the future.

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.


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