Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

The No Duh Chronicles: Meditations of a Boomer Gone Social

“@ the Intersection of ‘The Why?’ and Social Marketing”

The first place one begins to see an emerging pop management meme is in PowerPoint slides. A client or manager gets everyone assembled in a fluorescent-bleached conference room, and the hum of the projector signals “marching orders to come.” If you are in the agency world, you have the privilege of being able to move regularly among various such assemblies, all in a short period of time. When you start seeing the same slide showing up in multiple conference rooms and on conference stages, you know a pop management meme is on the loose.

Purpose or “The Why?” is a pop management meme on a tier. One’s never entirely sure who puts a meme in play, but I will credit Nikos Mourkogiannis for his book “Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies,” which I believe will become the “Good to Great” of the first half of this new decade.

A Purpose Genre has emerged in his wake. Agency legend Roy Spence, of Austin’s GSD&M Idea City has made Purpose his purpose both as author of “It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For,” and as CEO of the new Purpose Institute. In 2009, Simon Sinek joined the Purpose parade with his book, “Start with Why,” and many of us eagerly await former P&G CMO, Jim Stengel’s forthcoming title, “Grow,” a work founded in the concept of Purpose.

So why are they all asking “Why?”

Is this just the latest in a long list of “USPs”, “Mission Statements,” “Hedgehogs,” “Elevator Speeches,” “Brand Stories” and other such buzz speak that keeps the consultants in their platinum cards, or is something bigger going on? All of these tomes speak to how important Purpose is the marshaling organizations, attracting talent and fueling growth, but it is also very heavily associated with the changing dynamics of marketing communications. There is an important intersection at which Purpose and social media cross.

The mainstream of communications is now controlled by users, not distributors. Okay, no duh. But where Purpose meets this new mainstream is in the conversation content of social media chatter. Nearly every marketer who has thus far entered that stream with the conventional “deal points” approach to marketing communications has been rebuffed. You just can’t show up at social conversations with your bullet points and promotional offers. You need to be able to talk to people like, well, like you would talk to people. So, how does a company or its representatives enter such conversations?

By talking about Purpose, or “The Why.”

You need to be able to enter such conversations with an altruistic, empathetic observations, stories and POVS, admittedly contextualized in what your business is up to, but nevertheless not so baldly mercenary. What real good, not just value, is your business delivering to the world. What causes are you pursuing that’s larger than next quarter’s deliveries, or even the technical dimensions of your product or service engagement?

Without such Purpose, without starting with “The Why,” you’ll be excluded from the new, critical first phase of the sales cycle: the conversation that precedes and begets consideration.

The bad news is 99% of companies haven’t a clue about their larger Purpose, much less an altruistic, empathetic storyline with which they can enter conversations. The good news is there is a powerful emerging market demand for the strategic and creative services required to define and propagate such Purpose, conceptually and technically, larger than any the marketing industry has ever known. No worthy marketer should need to beg bread.

By
Rick Segal
Worldwide President
Chief Practice Officer
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One Comment

  1. As a trailing edge baby boomer, I love seeing more boomers get social media. It’s mission critical for those in B2B, marketing, & advertisng. This is not just the flavor of the month corporate training topic, but reflects a watershed change in an information revolution.
    Some may ask B2B or not B2B. After I read this, I realized the new question is why you b. My favorite quote: What real good, not just value, is your business delivering to the world?

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