Does a strong purpose grow business?

Engels artikel over het opkomende “purposeful business”. De vraag die ik probeer te beantwoorden is of dit ook bijdraagt aan je merk.

[English – Published at LinkedIn]

Last week I witnessed a presentation where a recent article of Michelle Keaney in Marketing Week was used as an example of the economic power of purposeful brands.

Michelle Keaney quotes a European study from IRI and the Boston Consulting Group which found that Responsible Consumption (RC) products experienced a higher growth than conventional products. And that RC products are able to command a higher price point.

I was triggered by that remark and investigated a little bit more on this subject. In this article I will reflect my thoughts on the True Purpose, the Triangle of Trust and opportunities that are arising.

1. The True Purpose

In a previous article Michelle Keaney asks the question: “What do we really mean by ‘purposeful’ business?” She answers the question herself:

I see a difference between ‘having a business purpose’ and ‘being a purposeful business’. The former outlines the reason a business exists over and above simply ‘making money’ and is also sometimes known as the ‘Why’ or ‘Core Ideology’. A purposeful business is something quite different. It is a business that exists primarily to tackle a problem or challenge in the world in some specific way, and sees the sale of products and services as a vehicle for this positive change.

Reading a lot of different statements online, the confusion started in my head:

  • Responsible consumption (RC) brands—those that use organic, natural, ecological, local, or fair-trade claims to differentiate themselves” (IRI/BCG study)
  • Purposeful brands grow faster than conventional brands” (Michelle Keaney)
  • Having a business purpose is not the same as being a purposeful business.” (Michelle Keaney)
  • Why Purpose-Driven Companies Are Often More Successful.” Article by Sherry Hakimi

The IRI/BCG study does not even mention purpose or purposeful at all. In fact, the study: “concentrated on four popular grocery categories: coffee, fruit juice, hand and body lotions, and household cleaners.

And I don’t think Responsible Consumption goods are the same as purposeful goods.

So, the question remains: “are consumers willing to pay more for purposeful brands?”

2. The Triangle of Trust

Instead of purpose I tend to use the word promise, which is for me the true purpose: live up to the promises you make. Promise is an often used word with a very clear task: do what you say you will do. But a promise can be hard work and challenging. Break a promise to your best friend and you know what will happen.

Now, picture yourself as a consumer and your favorite brand does not live up to it’s promise. If you really love that brand, you will give it another chance. But also a second or third chance?

I am intrigued about the influence of a strong purpose or promise to the success of businesses. I am involved with two gentlemen, Stephan Fellinger and Joost Schrage from De Zaak van Vertrouwen (a matter of trust) who have the same believe as I that a healthy business can accelerate with a clear consumer promise. These gentlemen created a model they call the Triangle of Trust with the experience that any organization is in charge of three elements:

  1. What do you promise?
  2. Which true product is connected to this promise?
  3. What Human Talent do you need to create your true product to be able to live up to your promise?

These three elements are visualized as wheels that are connected with elastic bands. When these elements are in harmony the tension on the bands is strong enough to withstand external pressure and consumers will trust you as an authentic organization.

If you turn one wheel (eg. change your promise) tension will come to the bands connected to that wheel. The other wheels will have to move with the promise otherwise the bands will break and external pressure can easily influence your organization in a way you cannot influence yourselves.  

Where Simon Sinek’s golden circle is focused on “why” an organization does what it does, a promise is focused on what consumers and employees can expect from that organization. And more than that: a promise is not only what a consumer can expect from you but also how you live up to the promise you make. What do you promise to the people who buy your product or service?

3. Purposeful and promising examples

The true purpose of successful businesses derives from the strong conviction in core of their existence. Let’s look at three successful examples and see what made their success.

3a. TOMS shoes

In her article Michelle Keaney also writes about Toms Shoes, which is a great example. This company is founded by Blake Mycoskie based upon his experience in South America. He saw what the effect was of bare feed due to poverty. Bare feet were a barrier to go to work, school or even medical help. Mycoskie started his company with the “one for one” strategy. Buy one pair of shoes and they will give a pair to poor people. Mycoskie wrote a very good article in the Harvard Business Review beginning this year. The brand promise of Toms:

“Using business to improve lives!”

A clear statement where profitability joins sustainability. This is also what Mycoskie refers to in the HBR article.

3b. Chobani

Another beautiful example is Chobani. The founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, thought that American yogurt was too sweet and expensive. So, he lent some money and bought an empty yogurt factory to produce Turkish style yogurt he knew from his cultural background. He paid his employees far more than what was normal in the market because he felt that it was his moral duty. Ulukaya in an interview: “Businessmen should promote a sense of purpose in their corporate culture to create a climate of positive change in business and the world. He stated that companies should focus on humanity and not just on their bottom lines.”Chobani’s promise:

“Better food for more people.”

Mr. Ulukaya wanted to make Turkish style yoghurt (which was seen as a luxury product at that time) accessible for a larger group. This purposeful way of doing business didn’t do him any harm, Chobani is now valued at a minimum of 3 billion dollar.

And one of the latest purposeful acts of Mr. Ulukaya: earlier this year he donated 10% of his own Chobani shares to his employees. The goal, he said, is to pass along the wealth they have helped build in the decade since the company started.

3c. Google

Google, you might wonder? Yes! This is an example that a purpose does not have to have a direct visible higher human goal, but in the end it has. Google’s purpose:

“to organize the world’s information, and make it universally accessible and useful”

In general the large public is using Google as their port towards the inscrutable internet. But we also tend to distrust Google because they know all about us and make money with that knowledge. Looking at the purpose of Google it could make room for experimentation in new products, technologies, and services. And this is exactly what the Google founders were aiming at in the beginning: make Google a truly great place to work.

We all know now, in the Big Data era, that Information is power. Google is making information accessible on a global scale, this could be seen as a way to achieve more equality in the world. If you look at it in that way, Google’s purpose is creating a solid business, a fresh way to look at employment and a way to make a difference in the world.

4. Big opportunities are there.

great global survey  (PDF) done by Globescan and BBMP identified 5 aspirations of the major group of influential consumers that could point the direction of the marketplace of the future.

This group of consumers, called Aspirationals, represent 40% of the global public and are most likely Millennials (1982 – 1998).

The five aspirations rooted in deep human needs and desires that define the identity, priorities and behaviors of this new generation are:

  1. Abundance Without Waste (more experiences, fewer resources)
  2. Truly as you are (welcome imperfection as honest and beautiful)
  3. Get Closer (connecting with the people behind the brand promise)
  4. All of it (experiencing freedom beyond binaries and finish lines)
  5. Do some good (agency and impact in the everyday)

Looking at this research I am positive that a purpose can grow your business, especially with the growing consciousness of consumers. But what do both Keaney and Hakimi also write in their articles? Consumers want honesty, transparency and authenticity. And according to IRI/BCG that is where one of the challenges lie with RC products: in trusting the trustworthiness of the claims brands make.

The promise (or purpose) should be one of the whole company and not of a small few in the top.

5. Your challenge

Conducting this small research and having the experience in working with the Triangle of Trust, my challenge to you as a reader would be to determine:

  1. the promise of your company and is this clear to everybody in your organization?
  2. what your true product is and is this connected to your promise?

And if these are clear the hardest part starts: is your current staff suitable to reach your business goals? If not you need to make choices.

If so, start your engines and find your greatness, it’s time to accelerate!

Pictures from: TOMS Shoes, Nicole Cammorata, Google, IRI/BCG, BBMG and Nike.

Eindelijk! Centennials komen werken.

Over Millennials en werk is al genoeg geschreven. En laten we eerlijk zijn: managers zijn nou niet vaak positief over deze groep. Ze stellen te veel eisen, luisteren niet, zijn alleen maar op hun mobiel bezig en denken dat ze alles kunnen maken.

Foto van Jake Oates via Unsplash

Maar, gelukkig staat de nieuwe generatie al te trappelen om aan het werk te gaan. De Centennials. Even de generaties op een rijtje (bron: CGK):

  • Traditionalisten [voor 1945]
  • Baby Boomers [1946 – 1964]
  • Generatie X [1965 – 1976]
  • Millennials (Gen Y) [1977 – 1995]
  • Centennials (Gen Z) [1996 tot nu, ongeveer]

Centennials: de ideale werknemer.

Deze generatie wordt vaak vergeleken met de Traditionalisten. Deze generatie groeide op tijdens de Grote Depressie en de Tweede Wereldoorlog.

En die vergelijking is logisch. De Centennials groeide namelijk op tijdens een periode van recessie, terrorisme dreigingen en schietincidenten op scholen. Daar komt nog bij dat deze generatie geen wereld kent zonder smartphones en social media. Deze elementen zorgden ervoor dat zij financieel voorzichtig zijn, tech-savvy en hard-werkend.

Dat lijken dus zomaar de ideale werknemers te worden!

De Centennial is financieel conservatief, tech-savvy en hard-werkend. Wat wil je nog meer?

Bij Millennials gaat het vooral om de “work-life balance”. De Centennial is meer bereid om ook over te werken. Zeker als dit zorgt voor financiele zekerheid. Oorzaken voor deze voorkeur moet je zoeken in de constante berichtgeving over de recessie, gesprekken over geldzorgen thuis en hun voorgangers met zeer hoge studieschulden.

Centennials makkelijker managen

Hier zijn drie tips waar je rekening mee kan houden als manager van een (erg) jonge werknemer.

  1. Communicatie = kort en bondig. Ze houden dan ook niet altijd rekening met politieke of traditionele gevoeligheden. Leerpunt: smiley’s en gifjes zetten ze graag in als dat helpt.
  2. Thuisblijven = naar je werk gaan. Waar thuiswerk mogelijkheden voorheen een privilege waren is dat voor de Centennial noodzaak. Maar, ze willen ook nog wel een cool kantoor om naar toe te gaan. Hier hoeft geen tafelvoetbal te staan, maar een zit-sta bureau doet het al erg goed bij hun.
  3. Aandacht = leren. Ze willen graag aandacht van hun manager. En dan het liefst dagelijks. Ze willen hun werk namelijk goed doen. En willen daarover feedback van hun manager.

Werk is iets wat je doet, niet waar je naar toe gaat.

In Amerika zijn er op dit moment 61 miljoen Centennials dat is ongeveer 20% van de totale bevolking daar. In Nederland is volgens het CBS ruim 26% van de bevolking geboren na 1996. Als we dan kijken naar de leeftijd 18 tot 22 jaar zijn dat inmiddels ruim 1 miljoen volwassenen.

Dus, gelukkig, ze komen er sneller aan dan we denken. Wil je nog meer lezen over de Centennial of Gen Z, dan raad ik je aan om het rapport van de “Center for Generational Kinetics” te downloaden. Staat veel informatie in.

5 Trends in Marketing Automation to be aware of

English blog for Digital Doughnut on the 5 trends in Marketing Automation that you need to be aware of as (digital) marketeer.

[English – originally published at Digital Doughnut]

If you ignore the rise of Smart Marketing. If you neglect to professionalise your digital strategy right now. Prepare yourself for a rough time. Here are 5 trends to support that statement.

According to the common definition, Marketing Automation is just about software. I know that it is not just the technology. Technology is the enabler to align marketing and sales. To optimise your communication with the goal to convert new leads. Technology makes marketing smart.

1. Increase of the effectiveness and importance of digital channels

The main goals of the 2017 digital strategy for companies are to “generate more leads” and “increase revenue”. According to a survey by Ascend2 almost 40% of those companies see “lead generation” and “revenue increase” through the digital channels as a significant success barrier. Prioritising goals will be necessary to create an effective digital marketing strategy.

The survey clarifies that a company’s website and social media are the most effective digital channels, but also the hardest to execute. For this, they hire external specialists.


A good development is that 92% of the respondents of a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute say that their organisations view content as a business asset.

On the other hand (sadly) only half of them have a documented strategy. And only 18% use the available tools to their potential.

2. Popularity of Marketing Automation sky high

Analysing the data from Google Trends makes clear that the interest in Marketing Automation increases in an extremely fast pace. Over 2 years the popularity doubled.

Google Trends Marketing Automation

At this moment Google serves about 15 million results on this topic in 1 second. Two years ago this was half of that result. So the sources of information doubled in that time. Not only the supply exploded, but also the demand. The monthly Google searches for Marketing Automation grew from 14.800 in February 2015 to 44.200 in February 2017 (Google Keyword Planner).

The huge supply of content on this topic and the speed in popularity growth will make it impossible to value the credibility of the information source. It is already hard right now, but start following the right influencers and you will have a (small) advantage.

3. Marketing Automation market will reach $8.6 billion by 2025

Markets and Markets expect the global market for Marketing Automation software to reach a worth of $5.5 billion by 2019. Inkwood Research looked towards 2025 and expect a market size of $8.6 billion. They expect an increase of 9.3% in the coming years.

Knowing this you also know that the importance of this technology will increase dramatically in the coming years. With the connected challenge that new skills are needed too.

  • Content Marketing Institute: “The greatest educational need is how to better use technology to manage content as a business asset and how to build a digital content strategy.”
  • Inkwood Research: “The leading players in the marketing automation software market are encountering challenges in incorporation with existing marketing and lack of knowledge and skilled employees.”
Inkwood Research on Marketing Automation

4. Lack of digital knowledge will cause bankruptcies

That more education is needed is clear. For large organisations this will be part of a talent development program. Small companies should take care of this themselves, otherwise the knowledge gap will be hard to overcome and they will fall behind.

45%25 do not know what SEO means

Two researches, one done by Weebly and another by, indicate that small business owners/online entrepreneurs know the importance of Google Search.

But 45% of them do not even know what SEO means.

Only 17% of the entrepreneurs will invest in Search Engine Optimisation. They think that hiring a specialist involves a high investment. Another good reason to start experimenting right now, while Marketing Automation is still in this phase too.

5. Technology and strategy will come together

While the main objective for the Marketing Automation strategy is “Increasing Marketing ROI”, marketeers see that “Measuring the Performance” is the most critical challenge.

Although implementing Marketing Automation software will take some time. It is not the software itself, but optimising your data and creating the right content. That will take time before you can really benefit from it. The software should help you in an easy way to let you start immediately. Than you can start learning by doing.

Be aware of this and select the right solution. The top selection criteria for the right Marketing Automation platform are “Ease of Implementation” (54%) and “Cost of Ownership” (43%).

Nucleus Research used the criteria Usability and Functionality for their Value Matrix. If we combine this with Marketshare data from Datanyze we see two dominant suppliers, but according to Nucleus especially the platforms with a low Total Cost of Ownership (for instance the open source software Mautic) are growing fast.

Atumic - Nucleus vs. Datanyze

If you have read these 5 trends you must have got the feeling too that it is time to move. It is not my goal to scare you. I want to open your eyes for the trends. They will have a huge impact on the marketing developments for the coming years.

5 signs that you are in the way of your own success!

Why is one person successful and someone else not (yet). Each of them will encounter one of the following pitfalls. Pitfalls that easily can be avoided. But then you have to recognize them!

[English – Original Dutch blog: click here.]

Entrepreneurs, managers or employees. Why is one entrepreneur more successful and the other one is not? Why does one employee make a career and another does not? What is the reason that one manager reaches his goals and another does not?


The direction is clear, why is one person successful and someone else not (yet). Each of them will encounter one of the following pitfalls. Pitfalls that easily can be avoided. But then you have to recognize them! Please, take the time to think about the pitfalls. Are they to some degree present in your (business) life?


Many people have a lot of trouble completing tasks. For whatever reason, even with sufficient resources, they do not finish anything. They have lots of good ideas, many trains starting, but none of them reach their destination. And the sole purpose of starting anything is the joy of accomplishment. If you don’t continue your plans, your deadlines shift or are not met, then you have something to think about. Is this concentration or discipline?

Don’t let go

Especially entrepreneurs and managers have the greatest difficulty in letting go. They have the feeling that they’re the only ones to perform a task to their standard. Even if this indeed is the case, this situation is not sustainable. It creates an enormous workload, where burnout could be of consequence. In addition you’re distracted from far more important issues. Fortunately there is a solution: You can learn to delegate!

You’re always right

You’re always right! Or do you find it difficult to admit a mistake? If you do not realize that, sometimes you are off target, you are missing a chance to learn. Making mistakes is in fact the first step to success.

Admit that you are wrong or ignorant. That is not bad at all! It is better for you, for your team or your colleagues (they will probably know anyway). If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.

Your own answer

You asks questions but are not actually open to the answer. Everyone recognizes this. People who ask for an opinion but do not really listen to it. They are only interested if the answer confirms their own opinion. They are surrounded by yes-men. Wrong! You make a better decision if you’re open to other insights and honest perspectives.


There is always a reason not to move forward. Whether it’s the time of year, the economy, the market, a lack of resources or just someone else’s fault. It’s not hard, there is always a reason. But isn’t there really something else going on? Perhaps the lack of courage to take risks? The amount of pressure? Your involvement?

Everyone makes mistakes, only successful people have the ability to realize this themselves. Once accepted, you can work on personal change and take your next step forward!

Text: Wim Kweekel – Kweekel Advies & Training
Translation: Daniel Janus – Atumic Smart Marketing