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Purpose is something that’s really come to the fore in marketing in the last few years. And it’s where we start thinking about our business mission, our vision and our values.
Take insurance, for example. What is the core purpose of insurance? Insurance is essentially a promise. It’s a promise that if something goes wrong, you, as an insurer, will put it right. And there has been a time and there still are some companies that are really not thinking about that general purpose behind the industry. And that’s why insurance generally is one of the least trusted industries globally. If you look at something like the consumer trust barometer, which is worth looking up online, you’ll see that banks and insurers are way down the bottom, whereas a lot of the digital businesses and the new companies are up the top. Because they’re sticking to their purpose.
Think about Google’s original purpose: don’t be evil. Now there’s a lot of debate around whether they’re still sticking with that purpose. The amount of data gathering they’re doing, the fact they have moved to Alphabet, and Alphabet haven’t carried on that same purpose.
This then splits down into your mission, your vision and your values. And sometimes when we work in a business, we may think that these are just wishy-washy statements. However, they’re core to pulling everybody together in a business, so that they’re striving to go towards the same goal.
Traditional communications originate from an organization’s:
They are all there to support it. They’re there to help the consumer understand what those three things are that your business is doing. Once you understand your company’s purpose, the key thing is actually embedding it within the strategy, within the business objectives and the business plan.
There are lot of companies around who focus very much on short-term goals. Consider the analogy of the boiling frog. If you want to cook a frog, if you boil a pan of water and then try to put the frog in, it will jump out straight away. It recognizes that it’s about to boil. But if you put it in a pan of lukewarm water and slowly raise the temperature, the frog will happily sit in there and will eventually cook. Companies that focus purely on the short-term and aren’t really thinking about the medium and long-term, are like the frogs in the lukewarm water. Because with medium and long-term, obviously, come different consumer trends.
Consider Blockbuster. They focused on the short-term, and weren’t really thinking about their purpose and what they stood for. Otherwise, they may have recognized the opportunities before it was too late. Another example, in the UK, is HSBC. Around the early 2000s, they brought in a lot of students because they offered a student rail card. They gave students discounts on rail travel across the UK. This was very important, because rail travel is expensive otherwise. Those students now are some of the most valuable customers HSBC have. But they stopped doing it and, if you look at the profile of customer age within HSBC UK, there’s a big spike around the 30-to-40-year-olds, but there’s a lot lower coming through. And now HSBC are advertising offering £200, so roughly, what $300, for new customers to join the bank. That’s a far greater expense than simply paying for a student rail card!Back to Top
John Makin-Shaw is the Head of Marketing at Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance. For over 15 years he has been designing, launching, and managing customer propositions for some of the UK’s biggest brands.
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
This module introduces fundamental marketing principles and tools including the value proposition, the classic marketing mix, market research, the customer journey, communications planning, creative planning, media strategy, and amplifying brand performance. By referring to current and recent examples, it illustrates how digital technology and changing consumer behavior and lifestyles are altering the consumer decision-making process and disrupting traditional marketing models and strategies.
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