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Savvy businesses know the profit-boosting secret of embracing a purpose

It’s easy to think of purpose — or a Big Audacious Meaning — as something that belongs exclusively to non-profit organizations and social enterprises. That’s a myopic view. One that will keep traditional for-profit organizations from realizing the boons that a purpose-driven approach can deliver.

Purpose has two sides. There is the altruistic side and then there is the practical side. There has been much discussion about the altruistic side — how organizations focus on benefitting society. We need that. But we shouldn’t lose sight of that fact that embracing a purpose reorients a brand and, in the process, transforms its success. Profit is an outcome of genuinely embracing a purpose. That’s more than theory. Well known companies are showing us how real it is. Everyone from Warby Parker and Dove to Patagonia and Airbnb.

To understand this, we need to first look at the definition of a Big Audacious Meaning — it is the difference you make in a life, a community, or even the world. If you are genuinely embracing your Big Audacious Meaning, you are prioritizing the difference you can make. That does three things:

  1. It gives you an outward focus. By having an outward focus, you are shifting the emphasis from what the brand can do to what the brand can do for those it hopes to serve. So the brand becomes less self-obsessed. What you do takes a back seat to what you can help someone become. That makes you more valuable to prospects.
  2. It shifts you from a brand that sells to a brand that serves. Great salespeople know that you don’t sell things to prospects. You help them buy. After all, none of us wants to be sold to. But we sure appreciate it when we feel like we are receiving genuine help. When you put your emphasis on serving, you will find that you actually end up selling more.
  3. It makes your message irresistible. Too many brands talk about what they do and leave it up to us to figure out why we should care. When you embrace your Big Audacious Meaning, you will find yourself talking about what your prospects can become and how you can help them get there. That’s the story your prospects want to hear. That’s how your story becomes irresistible.

It’s too easy to portray purpose as something that only non-profits or social enterprises pursue. So too many businesses write it off. But the savvy ones know its secret. When genuinely embraced, it is one of the most exciting strategic opportunities available today.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

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Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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