Toby Britton, CMO at Miappi, explores how brands can use digital marketing tools such as user-generated content to reinforce their sense of purpose, in an effort to support their wider corporate social responsibility strategy.
Today many b2c brands are adopting, or at least talking about, the idea of ‘purpose’ as a way of connecting with consumers and increasing brand equity.
It’s no longer enough to just sell soap, chocolate, trainers or fizzy drinks, today’s brands need to have some deeper and more meaningful reason for their existence. And why not? If you can show your brand has a greater purpose you should do just that. All things being equal, most consumers would prefer to buy a brand that not only serves their immediate need but does something more for the world we live in.
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Consumers today like to think that their money is being spent on products and experiences that not only benefit themselves but other causes too. Given a choice between a brand with purpose and one without 63% of consumers prefer to buy from the one with purpose according to a global consumer study conducted by Accenture research. So, purpose matters to brands because they know it matters to people.
There’s plenty of data to back this idea up too. For example, Unilever found that their 28 Sustainable Living Brands (those “taking action to support positive change for people and the planet”) grew 69% faster than the rest of its business.
But a common struggle that most brands face, is knowing how to articulate what their purpose is and inspire others to engage with their purpose.
How Can a Brand Articulate a Purpose with Digital Marketing?
Luckily today, with the development of vast online marketing solutions and the increased accessibility of social media audiences, it is considerably easier for brands to be vocal and generate buzz amongst their target audiences.
Consumers can be reached and inspired on the channels that are native to them online, which is what can make digital marketing so effective as well as a useful tool when it comes to purpose marketing.
At the heart of any digital marketing strategy, brands will be creating or sourcing content that will be used to target other consumers online, as part of a paid media campaign or promotion on a brand’s owned media channels.
The most impactful and relatable form of content is arguably user-generated content, the real stories from real people that consumers will resonate with the most.
There’s a phenomenon called social proof in which we trust what other people like us say about brands more than we trust what brands say about themselves. It’s why we ask our friends for restaurant recommendations, but it’s also why we read product reviews on Amazon, trusting the words of total strangers over what brands themselves have written in their product descriptions.
That’s why any digital purpose marketing campaign should be created with real stories from real consumers built right into it from the very beginning. A great example of this is Dr. Martens and their “Tougher Than” campaign.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at what you can do to build these real stories into the foundation of the way that you go about marketing your business. Here are our three tangible steps to take to build purpose marketing into your digital marketing strategy.
1. Drive Awareness
Driving awareness is the first step because if people don’t see your campaigns, they won’t know that your brand has a purpose in the first place. One of the best ways to drive awareness of your brand’s purpose is to develop digital media campaigns that feature real people and real stories. One important thing to mention here is that while reaching people is important, it’s not the most important factor of all.
Instead, driving awareness is all about putting the consumer at the heart of the story and reaching the people who are most likely to respond to it. This brings us back to Dr. Martens and their “Tougher Than” campaign, which championed empowerment and diversity and kicked off with a video that told the stories of four real people who’d showed incredible resilience and proved that they were even tougher than the boots that the company sells. This campaign acts as a great example of how building a personal story right into the centre of a campaign can help to make it much more relatable to consumers. But simply encouraging people to relate to your content is only the first step, and that brings us on to our next point.
2. Facilitate Action
Once you’ve managed to attract consumers’ attention, the next step is to serve them with a call-to-action. This is where it is important for you as a brand to tell your target audience how you want them to get involved and give them the tools to do it. A simple way to do this is to provide a hashtag that the consumer can use to engage with the campaign. Alternatively, you might want to encourage consumers to directly upload their stories to you leveraging a user generated content platform.
Facilitating action goes above and beyond just providing a call-to-action, though. You also need to make it as easy as possible for people to interact with the campaign, even if that’s as simple as Cadbury’s new “Donate Your Words” campaign. Aiming to combat the problem of loneliness amongst older people, the campaign raises money for Age UK by donating 30p from each sale of new limited-edition Dairy Milk bars to the charity.
When you show people both how and why to act, they’re much more likely to get involved. This is important because if your marketing campaign is based around user-generated content and you’re able to encourage people to create more of it, it will essentially start to power itself. It’s the closest thing you can get, in marketing at least, to a perpetual motion machine.
The third and final step is to evidence purpose and to let your consumers grow awareness. This builds on the first two steps that we’ve shared and involves celebrating the people who engaged with the campaign and giving them a stage on which to inspire others. Make the stories of your audience accessible so that others can learn about how you are empowering your audience and also inspire others to join the cause.
A great example of a purpose marketing campaign that provides evidence to inspire others, is Dove’s “Show Us” campaign, They created a collection of more than 5,000 brand new stock images, shot by female and non-binary photographers from 40+ countries. The goal was to represent a more diverse selection of people, and Dove calls it “authentic representation” for the 72% of women in the UK who don’t feel represented in media and advertising.
The Dove team leveraged a paid media campaign to inspire individuals who felt passionately by the current misrepresentation, to submit images and their own personal stories. This gallery of real stories from real individuals then seamlessly integrated with their campaign page.
Ultimately, this latest move in Dove’s savvy digital marketing strategy taps into all three steps that we’ve talked about today, but it’s particularly notable for evidencing their purpose. Dove has made a name for itself by evidencing purpose for years, including with their campaign for real beauty, a marketing campaign focussed on authenticity and putting real people and real stories first that started as far back as 2004. All these years on, it still seems to be paying dividends – and we’re not surprised. This campaign is not only raising awareness of a purpose, it is facilitating the action and evidencing the purpose. Making the consumers front of stage to show the real impact the Dove’s purpose is having on women and non-binary individuals.
Now that you know a little bit more about purpose marketing and building your social mission into your digital marketing strategy through user-generated content, the next step is for you to put what you’ve learned into action.
The good news is that with the three actionable steps that we’ve shared today, you should have everything you need to know to get started. Remember, knowing the value of purpose marketing is one thing, and actually putting that knowledge to work for you is another thing altogether. UGC platforms can help brands facilitate the action, collecting the stories that matter and distributing the stories where they can inspire others. Find the one that works for you and put your consumers at the heart of your digital marketing efforts for the best results.