From The Editor | July 21, 2022

Purpose Before Profit


By Perry Rearick, Chief Editor, Follow Your Buyer


Unless you’ve been stranded on a remote island attempting to recreate Tom Hanks’ “Cast Away” experience, you’ve likely noticed how captivated business and society has become with being purpose driven. Being part of something that is bigger than ourselves has not only become popular it is a highly successful business model that helps create memorable brands and loyal customers.

Here are three stories of how purpose leads to profitable outcomes!

Discovering Your Brand Identity

Wilfred Alfred is a brand strategist who lives in Lagos, Nigeria. He helps start-ups discover their identities to attract customers and investors. In Lagos? That’s right! Alfred says that Lagos is the epicenter of entrepreneurial activity for the entire African continent, but he also works with clients across the globe. His motto is “purpose before profit.”

Alfred describes his process as “leading entrepreneurs through a workshop in which they gain clarity on their brand by answering the question, what is your brand’s purpose?” However, he points out that it begins with a deep understanding of all the brand’s stakeholders: partners, customers, and potential investors. And he goes far beyond the typical firmographic information and explores how the stakeholders’ lives will be changed and made better through one’s brand.

For Alfred, and the brands he helps, purpose truly comes before profits! Revenue generation is of course important, but it is the natural result of operating with purpose, not the purpose itself.

Helping Your Buyer

Tom Roberts is the president of Vertmarkets, a B2B publishing, media services, and data analytics company. He and his team are on a quest to improve the relationship between businesses, specifically how solution providers and their prospects and customers connect with one another.

Roberts recalls the beginnings of digital publishing in the mid-1990’s when publishers began delivering engagement data to advertisers and B2B marketers no longer had to guess about the results of their advertising efforts. However, the data was misinterpreted, and sellers treated every engagement data point as a lead.

When analyzing the data, Roberts says they learned that long-held assumptions about buyers were wholly incorrect. Potential buyers were spending a great deal of time engaging with content for a variety of reasons, or stages of buying, to include understanding current business issues, becoming aware of problems they had, establishing objectives related to the problems, and setting strategies to overcome the problems. The most ineffective thing a seller could do during these stages is to contact someone and try to sell them something. Yet, that was the most common tactic used in sales follow-up. Sadly, far too many B2B sellers still do this.

Over time, Roberts and Vertmarkets developed a deep understanding of the buyer’s journey and concluded that the best way for sellers to develop business is to help the buyer throughout their journey. For example, if the prospect is trying to understand the issues that are negatively impacting their business, the sellers should help the buyers gain clarity on the problem, not jump to pitching a solution. This turns out to be the most effective, and efficient, way to develop business relationships between sellers and buyers.

Establish Lofty Goals

Not long ago I was recording a video message at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado and by mere chance I met 96-year-old Alfred Sonder. Through a brief conversation, I learned that he was the Deputy Director of NASA’s Gemini Launch Program from 1961-66.

Gemini was the second NASA astronaut program. It transported two-person crews into orbit for longer periods of time, developed in-space docking and rendezvous capabilities, and set the stage for the Apollo missions to the moon and so much more. 

I asked him about his experiences and expected to hear amazing tales of great accomplishments. Instead, he spoke about the numerous failures they encountered: equipment malfunctions, spacecraft instability, a critical in-space system failure threatening the lives of the astronauts, and even the complete destruction the Gemini 6 Agena Target Vehicle.

Sonder said they never questioned their lofty goals and their setbacks, while challenging, did not deter them. The process according to Sonder was to “try something, measure the results, apply what was learned, try again, and repeat the sequence.”

I personally hope that the purpose driven trend will be with us for a while. As human beings, we long to be part of something larger and greater than ourselves. 

If you’ve haven’t embraced it yet, give it a try.

Using Wilfred Alfred’s approach, define the purpose for your business, even if you’ve been in business for a while and begin by understanding your customers and how you can develop a brand that makes their lives better.

Like Tom Roberts and Vertmarkets, set out to make something better through the spirit of helping.

And don’t be afraid to set lofty goals like Alfred Sonder and his colleagues at NASA. Don’t be deterred by setbacks. Shoot for the moon!