“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
We all know what marketing means. It’s how you spread the good word about the great things your products and services can offer. However, there is a different kind of marketing that very few companies are good at. I call this “Purpose Marketing” and it is a crucial element for the success of organizations at any scale.
When a company is small, things are great. Everyone knows everyone in the company and they are all working together to further mission of the company. In most cases, small companies are led by a founder who embodies and echoes the mission and vision of the company.
However, as a company grows, things start to get a little fuzzy. Everyone is now divided into specialized groups to make the work more efficient. Individual employees now end up working on one tiny portion of a large operation. A major drawback of this approach is that over time, people forget what they are building.
There is an interesting story about three workers who were working at a construction site. After the great fire of 1666 that leveled London, the world’s most famous architect, Christopher Wren, was commissioned to rebuild St Paul’s Cathedral.
One day in 1671, Christopher Wren saw three bricklayers on a scaffold, one crouched, one half-standing and one standing tall, working very hard and fast. To the first bricklayer, Christopher Wren asked the question, “What are you doing?” to which the bricklayer replied, “I’m a bricklayer. I’m working hard laying bricks to feed my family.” The second bricklayer, responded, “I’m a builder. I’m building a wall.” But, when he asked the question to the third brick layer, the most productive of the lot, “What are you doing?”, he replied with a twinkle in his eye, “I’m a cathedral builder. I’m building a great cathedral to The Almighty.”
Leaders need to let people know that they are building a cathedral, not just laying bricks. They need to be good marketers not just for their ideas and products, but also of the larger purpose that it serves. Without embedding the significance of the larger purpose of your company’s work into the minds and hearts of your people, you are not going to create an engaged workforce.
So how do you go about doing this? The channels through which you achieve this is almost irrelevant. If you are a small company, maybe you can hold occasional fireside chats where you tell stories and anecdotes of how your product is changing the world.
If you are larger company, it might be not practical to have such fireside chats. However, you can leverage modern forms of communication such as newsletters, videos and podcasts. With the kind of technologies that we have today, it’s almost a crime to not broadcast your organization’s purpose with your people.
The amount of money that is lost on a disengaged workforce is astounding. According to the human resource research firm, McLean & Company, a disengaged employee costs an organization approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 in annual salary. It is also estimated that disengaged employees cost the US economy up to $350 billion per year due to lost productivity.
The simple act of writing a few words or speaking for a few minutes about your purpose can change the way people approach their work. When done right, Purpose Marketing can allow people to gain a sense of purpose, push themselves to do their best and enhance their sense of happiness and well-being.
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