What Does it Mean to Make Something That Matters?
What does it mean to make something that matters?
It’s something today’s best marketers feel compelled to do: make something that matters — to their customers, their industry, the world at large. It’s something we urge marketers to do in the shows we help them create: don’t just launch another branded interview show with the same comments from the same navel-gazers. Don’t just build another Buzzfeed quiz — build something that will resonate with your audience past that initial dopamine hit. Build something better. Make something that matters.
That advice sounds inspiring, but I worry that it can also feel frustratingly inaccessible. What does it mean to matter? And how can you reconcile making something worthwhile — something that borders on art — with your very real need to sell your product?
We want you to make an excellent show not just because we’re podcast and video nerds (which, I mean…if the shoe fits…). We want you to make an excellent show — your audience’s favorite — so you can be their favorite brand. We want your show to be a vehicle that delivers brand affinity, increasing engagement between you and your target audience and, in turn, increasing their lifetime value. That means we don’t just want you to create any show. We want you to create a show that forges that critical connection with your customers. We want you to create a show that underscores your brand’s purpose.
Ah. Purpose. Does your brand have one of those?
Understand your brand’s purpose before making your branded show
For your show to be successful, it needs to align with your brand’s purpose. And that means you and your team need to be able to articulate it.
Not the purpose of the show — the purpose of the brand. Understanding the company’s overarching goals and values is the surest-fire way to make a show that will resonate with your customers (and dismiss ideas that, while entertaining, don’t really matter).
Too often, though, companies themselves can’t articulate their purpose. Sure, they can identify what they sell and to whom they sell it, but they haven’t surfaced a greater drive that elevates them from peddler to partner, vendor to movement-maker.
Why build a purpose-driven brand?
By missing the opportunity to define their purpose, brands are missing opportunities to make something that feels like it matters, but they’re also missing opportunities to realize higher levels of customer loyalty and faster growth.
Consider these statistics:
- 63% of global consumers prefer to purchase products and services from companies that stand for a purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs, and will avoid companies that don’t. [Source]
- 77% of consumers say they have stronger emotional bonds to purpose-driven companies. [Source]
- 66% of consumers are willing to switch from a known brand to an unknown purpose-driven brand. [Source]
- 57% of consumers are willing to pay more for an equivalent product from a purpose-driven brand. [Source]
- 78% of consumers would tell others to buy from a purpose-driven brand. [Source]
- 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. [Source]
According to Deloitte, “Purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors, all while achieving higher workforce and customer satisfaction.”
Today’s consumers don’t just want low prices and personalized customer service. They want to support brands that stand for something. And according to Bill Theofilou, senior managing director for Accenture Strategy, “Purpose and profit are not mutually exclusive. Companies that stand for something bigger than just what they sell typically deliver higher levels of commercial success because they mean much more to their customers.”
Because they mean much more to their customers. In order to matter to their customers, brands must codify their authentic values and communicate them with their audiences. To succeed with the current generation of consumers and remain competitive in a field of purpose-driven upstarts, companies need a purpose that transcends sales. Only once they have identified this purpose can they create relationships with the like-minded customers to whom they will mean something — the customers who will defend them, champion them, and choose them again and again over better-known or less expensive brands — because their purposes are aligned.
That’s what it means to make something that matters: to define a purpose, then create content and messages and experiences that promote and support that purpose. A brand’s purpose serves as its true north star, casting clarifying light over projects, products, and campaigns. That purpose should illuminate the thinking and strategy behind all your marketing initiatives — including your show.
If you’re thinking: ok…but what we create all kinds of successful content — blog posts, one-off videos, daily social posts — already. What’s so special about a show that requires me to ascertain and align with our brand’s purpose?
A show can’t be a one-off. By its very nature, it’s a sustained medium with a sustained message. It’s not a gimmick, not a quick discussion of a newsworthy topic. It’s something built to last (something a lot like, that is, your brand itself). That makes it harder to execute successfully than a single, standalone piece of content — but it also makes its potential payoff in terms of a developing customer relationship much bigger.
Every company can be a purpose-driven company
Is there a small (or not-so-small) voice in the back of your head questioning whether your company is even qualified to become a purpose-driven brand? Quiet it — any company can (and potentially should) be a purpose-driven company.
Look at Unilever. Or KIND bars. Or Dove. They’re not just companies that sell, respectively, household cleaners, snack bars, and personal care products. Rather, they’re companies that stand for something: making sustainability successful. Fighting world hunger. Finding beauty in every body type. Just as no company can be too boring for a show, no brand can be too boring (or trivial, or consumer-focused) to have a far-reaching purpose.
If you’re excited about the prospect of using a show to make something that matters, good — you should be. Shows are an exceptional vehicle to do this purpose-driven work that creates opportunities for ideological clarity and forges the relationships both your brand and your customers crave. Shows allow your brand to show — not tell — how it lives its purpose. They offer a true window into both the mind and the soul of your company, and they share the authentic perspectives today’s customers increasingly expect from the brands they support. For inspiration, check out Patagonia’s Granted film series, which shares stories of people fighting to protect the environments of their homes, or Mailchimp’s Second Act, which follows five people as they pivot in their careers. These shows take the time to embody their respective company’s missions, which are about so much more than outdoor gear or email marketing. They also enable brands to pivot toward purpose: Mailchimp’s recent surge of thoughtful, inspiring shows send a clear message that this a brand striving to make something better, and which considers itself a platform and a partner more than a vendor of a cloud-based email marketing tool.
But before you plunge into the show development process, zoom out and identify your brand’s purpose. And if you can’t, then make that topic an urgent point of conversation and strategy with your company’s leaders. Ultimately, they too want to make something that matters. First, though, they need to understand and articulate what matters most to them.
A somewhat accidental marketer, I’m first and foremost a writer. I’ve spent a decade working with global brands to craft on-target content and streamline complex ideas into clear (and even…exciting?!) language. Now, I get to spend every day immersed in content and strategy here, as Managing Editor of Marketing Showrunners, at my company, Molly Donovan Content & Communications. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community of eager next-generation marketers and marketing showrunners.
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