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The Future of Business: "Am I Treating Each One of My Stakeholders Correctly?"

Written by: Olivia Fairfield

We are in the middle of a business evolution. This week saw Danone , the multinational food product company, declare the complete repositioning of their business for the greater good.

The movement leading this change? Purpose .

Cynics could perceive purpose as just a communications fad and one simply for the comms team. However, purpose has been slowly shifting up the decision chain and is now debated at the C-suite in many financial services organisations. If you aren’t considering your purpose, you're misaligning your whole business strategy. It should be what drives you and your company.

As customers, Millennials and Generation Z are exceptionally environmentally conscious. These younger generations purchase and invest in purpose-led, sustainable companies, as we explained in last week’s blog (along with why they're now a key market segment). 75% say that it's fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit.

So if you’re stuck on where to start, we’ve outlined a brief guide on how to put your purpose into practice:

Back to basics

While it may seem obvious, reviewing your core business is essential to kick start your purpose communications. “Start with the why” as Simon Sinek stated - reverting back to the core driver of why your business was created is a great place to start when reviewing your purpose.

Increasingly we are seeing companies articulate a purpose that goes beyond just delivering returns to shareholders – to create a sustainable company that adds value to each of its stakeholders. Although this could be at the expense of short term profits, research shows businesses that prioritise their purpose see a 10% growth year on year .

Teamwork leads the way

Once established, your purpose should be integrated through your team ethos. Employees are key. They live and breathe your brand story and need to be on board, so as to drive you towards your goal purpose. As Millennials rise through the ranks they want to work for companies with a strong purpose. In fact, Millennials would prioritise a sense of purpose and the company making a positive difference over growth or profits.

89 percent of all respondents in the HBR survey said companies with a shared sense of purpose would have greater employee satisfaction:

“It is more important that the purpose resonates with the employees than with the customers. If it doesn’t happen there, then the customers will [catch on] very quickly. And it has to matter to the supplier, and eventually to the community,” Raj Sisodia, author of Conscious Capitalism said.

Essentially: your comms piece will be worthless if your team isn’t upholding the values you are promoting ( United Airlines , take note).

Telling the story

Spending millions on a multi-channel campaign is pointless if you haven’t got the basics right. Purpose is about your brand message and story so ask these questions when planning your comms strategy:

  • What is my story?
  • If we consider the success of the new superfunds breaking into the market, the key to their success is not that they’re offering anything new compared to current funds, but that they are articulating their story better to their audience - Millennials.

  • Who is telling the story?
  • These superfunds carefully place key spokespeople that their target audience can directly relate to – Millennials want to hear from Millennials, CEOs want to hear from CEOs.

  • Are my communications creating a message that resonates with my audience?
  • These superfunds are tapping into Millennials’ most closely aligned products – tech, apps and "greenie bullsh*t ". With Millennials now being the long-term investors due to their age these start-ups claim to “invest in where the world is going” which is music to millennials ears after consistently hearing of the golden age of years gone by from older generations.

    Communications need to be authentic

    Consumers are savvy. They can tell when they are being sold to – 43% of Millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news. And 80% of consumers say “authenticity of content” is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand. It isn’t enough to just state your purpose but you must follow through.

    An authentic purpose, combined with a strong story and genuine customer experience that reflect this is the winning combination. Be prepared to evolve, as the world changes, keep reviewing your purpose to align with your customers’ needs.

    Short-termism is dead, visions rule

    Change is coming – or more realistically, we are weathering the storm of a huge sustainability revolution. Constantly reviewing your business purpose, brand story and communications will weather-proof your business to sail through, safely.

    A sustainable business is more than just giving money to support the environment, it is one that can essentially ask itself: am I treating each one of my stakeholders correctly? A company with its purpose rooted in sustainability will be successful over the long term as it will continue to deliver value to its stakeholders.

    As we approach the end of the financial year we must ask the question – where can I put my budget to keep ahead (or at least in line with) the future of communications? Our blog next week will help outline the top trends for the financial year ahead.