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01/25/2011 Put Your Marketing Team (and Your company) on a Mission

The Electrolux “Vacs from the Sea” initiative strikes me as one of the smartest things I’ve seen in years. Electrolux is not only highlighting an important environmental issue, they’re building the solution right into their product. Talk about solving a problem in a way that’s good for people and good for the company. The reason they are able to succeed in pulling this off is because the Electrolux eschewed business as usual and went on a mission to do good.

Too often we see socially responsible campaigns as something separate from the business. Collecting and donating money to needy causes is good but it almost never has anything to do with the core business. Most of the time, we’ve come to see lots of these efforts as Greenwashing and even trying to buy good will.

There’s a huge opportunity to put your marketing team on a real mission instead. The double upside is that, if done correctly, it will help your customers and help grow your business.

  1. Solve a problem. A great place to start is to solve someone’s problem. People love solutions. When your company can provide a real solution to a problem, people will have more reason to both buy, and talk about your company.  Lots of businesses started this way. Just look at the Geek Squad. Unfortunately, when businesses mature they oftentimes forget about the problem and focus almost exclusively on themselves and their products. Finding pain points or problems that even tangentially touch your products increases your relevancy. Put your team on a problem-solving mission.

  2. Deliver great service. Look at Zappos or JetBlue. They both offer commodities so instead, they focus on service. Here’s a quote from Tony Hsieh:

    “We decided that we wanted to build our brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best customer experience. We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department, it should be the entire company.”

    He put his entire company on a mission to deliver personal service and they’ve succeeded wildly. If you looked at your customer base, what would be the things they need most from your company? What level of personalized service or care could you give them that no one else can? Put your team on service mission to make them irreplaceable in the minds of your customers.

  3. Make a cause core to your business. That’s what Electrolux is doing. It’s one thing to say we’re going to donate money to clean up the ocean. It’s another to use what you’re cleaning up in your new products. Electrolux is modeling sustainability rather than just talking about it. By integrating the solution into their products, they’re making the product that much more interesting to talk about, especially for the owners. What types of causes or sustainability could you integrate into your products? This takes the idea of “Baked In” to a real level. And it’s one that energizes both your employees and your customers.

This isn’t just marketing babble; it’s a fundamental shift in marketing. It’s a shift from looking inward and talking about yourself to a position of really focusing on other people and what’s important to them. And that’s the insight: people might like brands, but they’re mostly interested in themselves. If more companies can realize that and focus on the external, we’ll see more marketing that makes a difference. 

Screen shot 2011-01-25 at 8.04.30 AM


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