Savage has always been a forward-looking company – whether we were leading the way in testing technology to enhance the skills of our designers or designing websites before most firms knew what a URL was – so when we began to hear whispers about the impact of corporate purpose, we knew we wanted to be early adopters.
In my last blog, I talked about why and how we implemented purpose at Savage. In this one, I want to talk about some of the things that purpose changed for us.
It all started with a powerful idea – the notion that doing business purely based on time or price is not the best way to build brand loyalty. The team at Savage realized that when companies value themselves based solely on what they do – selling things or hours – they are leaving out the most powerful part of the equation: purpose.
When writing an annual budget, many people want to start by brainstorming the strategies and tactics they want to act out over the year. They ask themselves, “What do I want to do?” and they compare their expectations for the coming year to what they did the year before.
When I speak to companies about connecting with their purpose and creating compelling mission and vision statements and acting on it, I usually get a lot of nods. Everyone in the audience is with me. Nothing I’m saying startles or offends them. We all know the basics about what (we think) these corporate messages are.
It’s about halfway through this speech that I tell them I know how to do a backflip. They perk up; this is different.
I picked up a print edition of the Houston Chronicle today, and it was so refreshing to read about a local car dealership who is interested in the customer experience and their community. Many companies give these words lip service, but Tomball Ford is shouting it out and backing it up with their actions.
Top performing companies are ones who focus on their purpose (the reason why they exist as a company) and empower each employee to deliver on that purpose. Employees who are engaged in their company’s purpose perform better than those focused on meaningless performance evaluations. It’s how your company will thrive in both good economies and bad.
Let’s contrast this with Microsoft’s current practice on employee performance – one that mirrors the same demoralizing bell curve grading system that we hated in school. No need to worry about teamwork or group success. And let’s forget about employee empowerment.
When marketing our companies, we seem to have an incurable itch to put everything and the kitchen sink into our communications. We erroneously believe that the more we tell our audiences, the better they will understand why they need our products and services.
In a world of message and image overload, we must resist the urge to “cram it all in.” Trying to show and say as much as we can in an ad, a brochure, a flyer, a video, a power point, or a website, leaves our audiences frustrated and confused. If they do not quickly connect with what we believe and the benefits we offer, they will take nothing away from our efforts. This results in a lot of wasted time and money.
I can’t help but wonder about the new JCPenney brand strategy. When the company hired Ron Johnson last year I was sure he was brought onboard to share how he helped Target transform their brand into a “cool” place to shop. Or perhaps he was recruited by this well-loved retailer to shed light on how he positively impacted the Apple retail shopping experience. Although the new advertising for JCPenney has been intriguing, it seems to be making promises that do not match the shopping experience.