Why your firm needs a cause you can believe in
By Charlie Britten
28 Nov 2019
The way many firms focus their marketing strategy on highlighting what they do. But being more concerned with ‘why’ could be much more important.
Every commercial firm, be it in law, b2b ecommerce, financial services or anything else, has an aim to turn in a profit. But is that all that matters?
There will be some who think it is, but business guru Simon Sinek has suggested that attitude fails to capture the true essence of what makes a company develop, attract customers and offer a better environment for its staff to work in.
Why will a just cause stand out from a mission statement?
Speaking to LinkedIn in a discussion of his book ‘The Infinite Game’, Mr Sinek said that, above all, a company should have a ‘just cause’. He was at pains to emphasise that this was not necessarily same thing as a mission statement.
- Words like "vision, mission, purpose… do not have standardised definitions”.
- This means that one mission statement can be "visionary” and another just an aim to "be the biggest in our category by 2020”, which is not a vision at all.
- By contrast, a ‘just cause’ can be defined as: "a cause so just that we would be willing to sacrifice in order to advance this cause”.
On the basis of this definition, he noted that aims such as being the biggest firm in a sector by a certain date did not amount to something people were like to be willing to make sacrifices for.
For employees, this would include:
- Working long hours
- Taking business trips away from home
- Turning down a better paid job elsewhere
What defines a just cause?
The question is: What would constitute a just cause and how can companies develop this?
Among the qualifying criteria Mr Sinek has listed are:
- It must be optimistic - a "positive vision of an idealised future”
- It must be in service to someone else - "It can never be for the primary benefit of you.”
- It aims at an idealised state that we may never attain but can move nearer to - Mr Sinek’s example being that of the US constitution and gains in civil rights over time.
All this may seem rather heady stuff and not easy to attain for a commercial firm, as opposed, for example, to a charity. Mr Sinek argued, however, that any boss who ignores the cause to achieve a business goal does not truly believe in it - and is therefore not going to find his staff being willing to make sacrifices for them.
What can a just cause do to help firms grow?
Therefore, it is not true to say that business success and the pursuit of just causes are irreconcilable. Rather, if your firm is aligned with an enterprise that seeks to make the world a better place in some way - with the income you get from it being a happy by-product - the buy-in those committed to the cause will give will translate into greater productivity, energy and loyalty.
The last of these will also help ensure your staff is more experienced, as they will be less likely to become fed up and leave.
In turn, your just cause can be a unique selling point for your target market. The impact of focusing on the ‘why’ you do what you do rather than the how is not just internal, but external.
Being a social enterprise is a way your firm can step forward and engage with a just cause. Rather than just a bit of ‘greenwashing’ or window dressing for good PR purposes, you can get involved with a charity that’s related to the work you do or integrate certain principles into your work and workplace.
A good example of the first case might be that of a law firm that works on wills and probate, whose partners give up their time to partake in a charity project to provide free will writing services. An instance of the second type of action would be a firm taking a range of steps to make its office more environmentally friendly, such as using renewable energy, installing a green roof or having ‘grey water’ for the toilets.
All this can show to your customers and potential customers how your commitment to a just cause motivates you. It has great potential for generating social media engagement and can assure people that you are genuinely interested in them and the wider world.
Meet a firm that walks the talk
What we can also do is help you to emphasise your just cause in your branding, content marketing, in your emails and, in particular, your social media marketing. By highlighting your USP, we can help you get the rewards you deserve for the commitments you make and the importance you place on making the world a better place.