Podcast: How to prepare now for the future of marketing
By Anne Boyle | May 8, 2017
Why do truly good brands need Purpose to connect with their consumers? Why now? And what’s next?
The Boiling Point Podcast episode on Marketing Your Purpose has all the answers. Our discussion with hosts Greg Hemmings and Steve Kopp explored how companies with social Purpose can use marketing for good while building meaningful connections with customers. Nowadays, social responsibility isn’t enough: consumers want to do more than give change when they open their wallets; they want to make change.
But why now? We discuss shifting demographics, the impact of politics, and marketing’s somewhat shady history to understand why Purpose is key to increasing social impact and unlocking customer loyalty. We also cover marketing’s responsibility in the Purpose economy.
Gone are the marketing days of yore, when Don Draper peddled products to fill a void in consumers’ lives. Today, consumers want to contribute to making the world a better place and expect the same of companies. We reveal how Purpose lives at the intersection of what companies and the average consumer are doing to make positive change.
Got 30 minutes? Tune in now to hear how Purpose improves decision fatigue and helps our customers be their best selves. Plus learn about our favorite Purposeful companies (hint: brownies!) and a prediction for the future of marketing for good.
Queue up the episode for your car ride, workout or for right now. You don’t want to miss it! Prefer to read? Check out the transcript below!
Boiling Point is a podcast for the ever-evolving entrepreneur and forward-thinking movement pioneer. It informs and inspires positive change in business and the world.
DON HEMMINGS: Welcome to Boiling Point, the podcast to motivate ever-evolving entrepreneurs and forward thinking movement pioneers. Our hosts, filmmaker Greg Hemmings and Executive Coach Dave Veale are turning up the heat in the world’s business communities. Our interviews with entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and movement makers are raising the temperature of inspiration. Live from the hottest studio in this quadrant of the universe, here are Dave and Greg.
GREG HEMMINGS: Okay, Steve, back to the Boiling Point Round 4 or 5. I don’t know where we’re at now. All I know is –
DAVE VEALE: Four.
GREG: – we’ve got some very lovely corked wine on the go. And –
DAVE: Seasoned with screwdriver.
GREG: Seasoned with a little bit of screwdriver. Because that’s what you do when you don’t have a corkscrew. It’s very Boiling Point style. It’s in fashion. Thank you, Don Hemmings, for opening it up. And oh my gosh, okay, what do we have? We’ve got Masi Campofiorin.
STEVE: Beautiful pronunciation.
GREG: Oh, thank you.
DAVE: I love it.
GREG: Okay, there we go. I’m going to pass this over to you.
STEVE: Greg’s got pants on.
GREG: I’ve got pants on. My pants are the color of a red wine, in fact. So, right now we are actually on hold, waiting–
DAVE: With coffee notes.
GREG: With coffee notes – with notes of coffee. With Polina and Anne from this amazing communications and marketing branding company. So, there’s a little bit of a joke going, Polina and Anne, here. I came to the podcast booth with my pants drenched with coffee. Like, I totally spilled coffee all over me. So, I’ve been sitting in the podcast booth with nothing but underwear on. And then, Steve, my co –
STEVE: I’ve been making fun of Greg now for three weeks about this, or three shows.
ANNE BOYLE: Well, you know that they say that if you are ever nervous about public speaking that you should picture the crowd in their underwear.
ANNE: So if you’re at all nervous, now we’re just picturing you in your underwear. How about that?
GREG: I hope you are, Anne. And the funny thing is Steve just poured a lot of –
STEVE: I just launched wine.
GREG: – a lot of red wine all over his pants, as well. So, the secret is out. The Boiling Point – yeah, you know, we do these marathon runs on coffee and wine. So, Polina and Anne, welcome to the Boiling Point, finally. It’s so good to have two beautiful, beautiful human beings come join us. And I miss the both of you.
POLINA PINCHEVSKY: Oh, likewise, likewise. Thank you for having us.
GREG: So unfortunately, because we got such a late start, we should jump right into this because we’ve got until 3:28 AST for this interview to go to. And let’s get right to it. So Steve, right before he spilt the red wine he said, “How do you know these two ladies?” I’d rather send that over to you two.
STEVE: How do you know Greg Hemmings?
POLINA: Well, I can easily answer that. Greg and I – lucky for me, I should say – were paired up to be B Corp Ambassadors by B Lab. So, when I got my e-mail telling me who I was paired up with, I was like, “Woo-hoo.” They couldn’t have done a better matching job, because there was this – at that point, I had heard of Greg and had known about Hemmings House. So, I was really excited that we now had sort of an official capacity to working together. And the rest is history. Since then, we’ve hung out at the Sustainable Brands Conference and in Philly. So, it’s been fun.
GREG: And I got to hang out with you and Anne on the streets in Philadelphia, walking to a restaurant, if I recall.
POLINA: Yes, lots of fun.
GREG: So, we go way back, Steve. In the world of the B Corp, as you’re probably going to find out, there’s a ton of storytelling companies within the B Corp family. And I feel that that’s so critical. And creating a movement is having marketing agencies, branding agencies, communications agencies, film production companies, et cetera, not only building profitable business, but also telling stories of other companies doing the same. Why don’t we introduce RoundPeg from your words, Anne and Polina? Let’s share the magic that you bring into the world.
ANNE: Sure. So, RoundPeg is a small marketing consultancy. And we help social impact brands, like B Corporations. The main work we do is helping them activate their Purpose, in order to change their approach to marketing and really shift the way that they think about their relationships with their customers.
So, part of the emphasis for that is that we’ve seen that social responsibility and CSR aren’t really enough of a differentiator. Those things were becoming expected more by consumers, which is a really great thing, actually. But companies with a genuine social Purpose can truly engage their customers with that Purpose in a very different way.
In a way, that keeps their customers coming back for more and also amplifies the social impact that the companies are having, or able to have. So, we work with those companies to define and showcase their social Purpose, and then to align their brand and their customer journey with that Purpose. And it’s usually through pretty much everything you do. And then, we develop creative marketing strategies and campaigns to engage customers on Purpose. And that includes those retention results, loyal communities of influence, and again increases social impact.
GREG: And why do you think now is the time where Purpose means so much? Like, it’s not just a catchphrase. Talk to us about that.
ANNE: Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, this has been an undercurrent before, the current political climate. And I think that we saw, especially with the Super Bowl commercials that you and I, Greg, were talking a little bit online about, that even kind of big name, non-social impact brands are starting to come out and talk about social and cultural issues. And I think there’s a couple of reasons for that.
Obviously, our U.S. sort of political climate has a lot to do with that, and people really feeling a need to be much more civically engaged and companies needing to respond to that, as well. But before what’s been happening in this last year or so, there’s been a shift in our demographics. And a piece of that is that the millennial generation and whatever the generation after that is called – there’s all sorts of different opinions on that – they kind of grew up at a time where there was a lot more consciousness of things, like environmental sustainability and diversity and inclusion.
So there’s a different mindset. There are so many different things that are outcomes of that. But one of them is that the largest group of consumers that are now having pretty major buying power in our society really see themselves as contributing to the broader social good, and have come to expect companies to do that, as well. And I think that where Purpose comes in is this chance for there to be an intersection between what companies are doing to make change in the world and what your average person is trying to do to make change in the world. And there’s a place where they can meet, where they haven’t really been able to before, or there just wasn’t a symbiosis before. But there is now, because there are shared values in a much more authentic way than there have been in the past.
DAVE: One of the terms I find really jarring and interesting is marketer’s responsibility, or marketing’s responsibility. You don’t really think about that or hear that really ever, or I don’t anyway. But I guess my question in thinking about it is what was it that led you two to think that marketing could affect change, before you started the company?
ANNE: Sure. Well, I think both of us come from a tradition, if you will, and a background of using marketing to affect change. But we both kind of team up around where nonprofits really were getting into things like cause marketing and behavior change marketing. So, that kind of laid the foundation for us, personally. But I think when we got involved in the B Corp movement, which Polina can talk about in more detail, we started to slowly – it wasn’t one of these light bulb moments – but slowly see where there really could be a very different role for marketing, because B Corps and other socially conscious businesses aren’t business, as usual. So, of course, marketing as usual is not going to really work.
ANNE: And there’s been a fairly explosive growth, actually, of marketing and storytelling companies in this space. When we joined at the B Corp in 2012, I think there were 12 or 13 marketing firms. And as of a year ago – I haven’t checked since – there were 80 something. So, there’s definitely a recognition beyond just RoundPeg. We weren’t the only ones to figure this out.
But the opportunities here for change, I think, lie in that shift of the customer relationship because we’re in this time of really rampant consumerism. Consumerism really overwhelms their choices. And a lot of times, they just don’t have the capacity to really make good decisions. Not meaning that they are not intelligent enough to or they don’t have the desire to. But we’re just so overwhelmed with messages, and it’s really hard sometimes to tell what’s genuinely good from what’s good-washing.
There’s a real opportunity for truly conscious companies to help customers make the right choice, because I think they want to. They just oftentimes don’t know how to. And I think that really comes back to what the relationship with the customer is, and engaging them on really shared values, rather than manufactured values, which I think unfortunately is the tradition that marketing has come from.
In the 40s and 50s, there was this kind of social upheaval that there were a lot of things going on that kind of made people feel a void in their lives in different ways. And marketers and advertisers kind of stood in to try to fill that void with product and associating what a product could do to kind of make you feel better about yourself. And I don’t think that’s really necessary anymore for these truly good companies. Because when they’re really doing good in the world and moving the needle on social and cultural issues and making change in how we make what we buy and what we buy and whether we even need to buy at all, there is an honesty about that that really does help people truly self-actualize their vision of themselves. Because when they support these companies, they are really making change. They’re not just giving change when they open their wallet.
DAVE: What companies do you think are really doing a good job of that?
POLINA: I feel like there are not as many as we would like to see. And they’re a handful that we keep going back to, because they are doing such a nice job. They might come to it from different angles, but they’re truly kind of living it, fully living their values. And one would be Greyston Bakery.
GREG: Love those guys.
POLINA: I don’t know how familiar you are with their brownies. I think you guys had them on the show, even.
GREG: No, we haven’t. But, Polina, you’ll get a kick out of this. When I was in New York two weeks ago, we had an event in, where the heck was I? Greenwich Village. And we invited the folks from Greyston. They came. And we just had this great social event. And Steve, who is sitting with me right now, one of his business partners, Robin, in Brooklyn showed up, as well. So, there was a nice, little connection there, as well. So yeah, Greyston, for those who don’t know, they make all the brownie for Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, all their little brownie chunks. Anyway, continue, Polina.
POLINA: Yeah, they do a fantastic job for – if you’re familiar – they sell their products in Whole Foods. They also have bakeries in New York. So, they do – they have a retail presence, as well as a B2B presence. And they’re just very upfront and open. Their whole point is that we bake brownies to hire people. It’s not about the food itself. It’s about giving opportunities to people that have been marginalized until now. So, it’s a company that’s just really impressive. And they’ve been doing it for a really long time. This was not a novel thing that they’ve uncovered. It’s not a marketing ploy. It’s really who they are.
The other company that we often talk about is Plum Organics, out of California. They make organic baby food. And they’re a very interesting company. They’re the only company that we’ve connected with and seen that actually has a position that they’ve created for a missions officer. And this person’s job is to make sure they stay on mission and coordinate between all the various departments in the company to make sure that ever decision and everything they do supports their greater purpose and their greater mission. So, they do a ton of work. So, you know, on different initiatives. But their whole purpose is essentially that all kids in America should have access to healthy food. And they really act on it. So, those two are kind of our star examples within the B Corp community.
GREG: And great example. And I can name a number of others, as well. But you’re right, we’re talking a very small slice of the consumer or, you know, the retail sector brand universe. It’s in our bubble, I think that we see this all over the place. And it almost feels like we are surrounded by these companies doing good. But we got to step back and realize that we’re in a bubble –
DAVE: Small slice, right.
GREG: We’re in a tiny, little bubble, and there’s a lot of work to do. Something I’ve been noticing as a trend in marketing, or expectations from the market is way back on the day, the focus was on quality. If you’ve got a high quality product, that’s what you needed to market about. Didn’t necessarily matter if it came from a different country that may not have been treating employees appropriately or the environment. But it was high quality; that was it.
Then, it kind of graduated to innovation, where quality was expected. But what type of innovation are these companies doing? And then, if you weren’t – then, the next stage was social. Like, how do you jump into social? So, we expect innovation and quality. But how are you connecting into the community, you know? And now I feel like the next evolution of social was purpose and values, which is where we’re at right now. What do you think the next evolution is going to be, because if we’re in the Purpose age right now of marketing, what’s after that? Because pretty soon, everybody’s going to expect, “Okay, I’m going to spend my dollars with Purpose driven companies.” What’s going to be the next one, from your opinions, as futurists that you are?
POLINA: I can tell you what I would like it to be. I don’t know if that’s really what will be. For me, it would be advocacy. You know, we’re at a point where that’s been controlled by, or mostly worked on, on nonprofit sector. But more and more businesses are getting involved in advocacy. And I’m not talking about lobbying, where it’s like lobbying for your own interest and how to pass laws that give you tax breaks. I’m talking about lobbying and advocacy, on behalf of greater good, on behalf of social causes, on behalf of – and I think this is a good example to bring up Ben & Jerry’s, who went to demonstrations and got involved very actively in North Carolina when there was the entire bathroom bill controversy – that’s ongoing. So, that would be a tremendous opportunity for a lot of businesses to put a stake in the ground and really own an issue, and work towards a greater cultural shift.
GREG: I love what you’re saying there. It’s the corporate activism side. This is really cool. Like, the trend is going. It’s getting sharper and sharper to businesses being used as a force for good. We say that in the B Corp world as a slogan. But truly, once we see a capitalism that’s transformed into a place of activism – and we see Salesforce jumping into that world.
GREG: We see – yeah, Salesforce. We see PayPal pulling out of –
GREG: Yeah, Care2. It’s all these businesses that are saying, “No, we’re not going to bring all those jobs to your state, because of your homophobic policies,” as an example. That’s exciting for me, as well, Polina. I’m excited for seeing more of that. And it’s happening already. So, it’s beyond Purpose. Now it’s going into a place of activism, which is really going to silo it out into tribes in a way that it could be potentially damaging for a short period of time for mass market appeal. But I think for longevity, those companies that stand for something are the ones that are going to have a story that’s going to last. Interesting stuff to think about.
ANNE: Yeah, I think that we saw a real interesting case of that yesterday, actually, here in the States, which was the day without immigrants. Where a significant number of businesses, at least in our area –we’re just outside of Washington, D.C. – closed for the day so that their employees who were immigrants who are here in the country legally were able to take some time and show the country what it would feel like if we didn’t have immigrants. And I thought it was just some really interesting social media commentary around that. In our area, I think it was largely positive.
But seeing some things from other areas of the country and some businesses that I follow, some small mom and pop shops, like my favorite bagel place at the beach closed down too. Larger companies and seeing I think it’s unfortunately a microcosm example of how divided our country is. But the sort of really positive support that these businesses saw for doing the right thing – and in a lot of cases, that does coincide with their Purpose. And in other ways, it’s just they’re doing it because they think it’s the right thing to do, you know, for their employees and for their communities, which is a wonderful thing to see happening.
POLINA: My local supermarket did the same thing. And it was tremendous to go in there and not to see all the familiar faces stocking the shelves, watering the fruits. You know, just it was a completely different experience, and it was very jarring.
GREG: Well, this is the type of future that we’re just about to step into. Very exciting. And I think we need to have a second follow-up conversation with you both. We’re at the end of our half-hour, unfortunately. But why don’t we touch base again in six months, because we’re at the beginning of a new administration that I think the B Corp community has been really careful not to speak out against, but rather stand up for other sides that are working, instead of taking the negative. But it feels like that whole concept of corporate activism is now going to become very prevalent in the B Corp world. I wonder how that’s going to change that stance on not standing against things. And I want to –
DAVE: That is a chance to inspire, right. Which I think, companies are stepping out.
GREG: Yeah, and that’s really the B Corp way is we stand for; we don’t stand against. But when we see –
ANNE: But I think there’s a way –I can’t help but put my marketing hat on that, and say that there’s very much a way to still stand for something in this, but it’s how we are active. And it doesn’t always necessarily have to be against something, but showing the other side of, I guess it’s two sides of the same coin, as you know. But we don’t necessarily have to be going out there and saying, for example, you know, “We’re vehemently against any immigration policy.” But we can be going out there and saying, “We are for, you know, fair and just immigration policies. And we are for” –
ANNE:– “treating the members of our community, you know, in the right way. And we are for highlighting our contribution to society,” as an example.
GREG: Amen. Well, thank you so much, ladies. This has been awesome chatting with you guys, always. And let’s make sure we have a follow-up conversation. This particular podcast was cut a little bit short just because of a few technical issues getting in touch at the beginning. But we’re going to continue this conversation. I think we should do it in six months.
STEVE: I think it was the Russians –
GREG: It was the Russians.
STEVE: – somehow.
ANNE: Sounds good.
GREG: I think it was a communist.
POLINA: And I hope that – I hope you have better luck with your pants next time.
GREG: Well, yeah, we got coffee and red wine spills everywhere here. And we apologize to Tim. We love you, Tim, and we love your couch. And thankfully, my pants actually have the – and a coffee and a red wine tonality to them anyway. So, it’s hard to tell.
GREG: Well, POLINA and ANNE, thank you so much.
DAVE: Thank you.
GREG: And one last thing, how do people get a hold of you and follow the amazing work you’re doing?
POLINA: The best way to get in touch is to check out our website, www.roundpegcomm.com. And all contact information is there.
ANNE: Yep, we’re also on Twitter.
POLINA: Yeah, we’re also on Twitter. And we have a pretty active blog with lots of great content, a lot of ideas, and a lot of, you know, articles that address the very things we talked about. So, check that out. And, I mean, we’re easy to find.
ANNE: Thank you for having us.
GREG: Okay, thank you. Bye-bye. STEVE, there are so many takeaways. We don’t have time to get into them. Let’s go to the next one. I’ll see you next week. Awesome.
STEVE: I’ll be here.
GREG: I hope so.
DON HEMMINGS: Thanks for checking out this episode of Boiling Point. Remember, to rate and subscribe to us on iTunes and follow us on Twitter @BoilingPointPod. To see more from Dave Veale, check out www.leadershipunleash.ca or www.visioncoachinginc.com and at Twitter @dave_veale. And to catch up with Greg, visit www.hemmingshouse.com and @GregHemmings on Twitter. Thanks for listening, and remember, keep that pot boiling.