When I first discovered the purpose movement and started exploring purposeful businesses, I noticed a few interesting things about these organizations. Most notably, they had a clearly defined purpose greater than profit. Secondly, their purpose helped build brand engagement.
Because they were so clearly focused on creating positive impact, the conversations they had with followers on social media and with their employees looked a little different. They had shifted the lens from what they were doing to why they were doing it. Their stories focused on their impact, and they often provided space for people to share their own personal stories. Both of these things built a sense of community.
It’s been much more difficult this year for brands to engage with their employees and customers and foster a sense of community. So I wanted to revisit a few of things we can do as business leaders to rekindle connection and community.
Fostering Brand Engagement and Building Community
So, how do you start building brand engagement? It starts with knowing your purpose.
1. Know your purpose. Your purpose should inspire and motivate the people around you. It provides a sense of meaning to the work your doing, which foster connection to the brand. Leverage your purpose to help you identify the people who share your values and to build engagement among your employees, customers, partners and the communities your serve.
2. Drill down. Think smaller to grow bigger. I will admit this advice is easier said than done, yet I also know it works. Try to be as specific as you can be about your audience, then serve that audience really well. Sometimes we try to do it the other way, thinking we will get more specific as we grow. Unfortunately, while trying to serve everyone, we serve no one.
3. Join in. The best advice I can offer – after knowing your purpose – is to be where they are. Once you have narrowed in on your audience, find ways to join them. Follow and engage with influencers, read and share articles and join associations or industry groups. Another great option is to explore partnership opportunities. Work with other people in your space, or who target the same space, to find creative ways to serve your audience.
4. Be generous. The pandemic put a spotlight on generosity. Many brands found ways to pivot their business or offer free/reduced services to those who needed it. However, being generous doesn’t mean giving your products and services away for free. It’s more about knowing what your audience needs and when. Then, finding a way to meet them in that place. Brand generosity demonstrates understanding, commitment and altruism, which is why it’s so special.
5. Create space for connection. Find or generate opportunities to bring like-minded people together. Pre-pandemic this looked like the yoga apparel store offering free yoga or a running store coordinating races and running clubs. Today, it might be a Facebook group that brings together people around an issue or cause; a podcast offering interviews with industry leaders; or a video series with your executives.
Being with people who believe in what you’re doing will create ambassadors who love and support your brand. When we can’t be with people in person, our responsibility is to get creative and generous with how we foster connection. In either case, it begins with crafting a purpose greater than profit.
Maybe you can help? I would love to know what questions you have about brand purpose. What do you want to know about finding your purpose, using purpose to grow your business or why purpose even matters. Send me a message at karen (at) aligndonpurpose.com or submit a question here.