Company Mission + Human Needs = Success By Jim Crowell
“Offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality and value.”
The great retailer, Nordstrom, places this above all else. They aren’t just words, they are Nordstrom’s ethos.
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
That is Patagonia’s mantra and you can feel it laced through their marketing, their clothing, and their entire company brand.
These company’s missions sound noble but, at OPEX, we constantly are asked “but we need to make money now!” How can you, as a newer or struggling business, create a powerful mission that can also create tangible sales? To define best practices for building a mission that produces success we have to define how clients purchase products or services. For the purposes of this article we are going to look at 3 basic human needs. How do they relate to selling? How do we view them at OPEX? And, why is your company’s mission paramount to you hitting your client’s needs?
3 of the Basic Human Needs:
Autonomy — Needing to feel as though you have choices
Relatedness — Needing to feel cared for and a part of something
Competence — Needing to feel a sense of growth and flourishing as you build effectiveness at meeting everyday challenges and opportunities
We live in a world where a consumer has endless choices. From the cheeseburger that you choose to the furniture that you put into your home, you could go grey just thinking about what to choose. Autonomy isn’t the notion that you have endless choices. It is the notion that you, as a person, have the ability to control your destiny. It is a powerful force for people. If somebody doesn’t feel that they have any ability to control their life it has been seen that they lose inspiration and motivation.
As a company, it is paramount to inspire your audience to know that your company and culture provide them with a message of autonomy. Notice that I didn’t say “your product needs to provide autonomy.” In today’s world, businesses constantly claim that their products are the end all be all. That notion has lost its luster. The smarter businesses have moved to building a culture within their own company and then expanding that culture outward to their potential buyers.
You don’t buy product anymore! You buy experience. You buy status. You buy ideas of what “could be.” Take this example from Apple a few years ago…
The commercial highlights that people who change the world think differently, laugh at status quo, and have the gall to think that they can change the world. It inspires choice and it inspires culture. I don’t buy apple just because I like the product. I buy apple because I want to have the choice to change the world.
You would think that in a world that is ultra-connected by smart phones, the internet and video-conferencing that we, as a people, would never feel more connected to others. Unfortunately, for many, it is quite the opposite. Just because you have the ability to speak with, or see, somebody on the other end of a machine doesn’t mean that you have the deep feeling of connection to them. You need to feel cared about and you need to feel connected to something bigger.
As a company you must build a culture around this feeling. You must collaborate internally, include others externally, and bring people in instead of pushing people out (as a general idea). Remember, you can try to market ideas that you do not actually implement inside of your business. And, that marketing may actually work…for a time. But, the market always finds a fraud and your business will suffer dearly if you are not actually practicing what you are preaching.
A brilliant example of marketing to this idea is Nike’s commercial with Lebron James…
It brings EVERYBODY into their “house.” It isn’t about the shoe. It isn’t even about the sport. It is about working together with everybody who has a stake in their team’s mission. I don’t even know if Nike shoes are more quality than other brands. I buy Nike because I get access to feel like I am a part of their entire brand’s culture of togetherness.
Sounds easy to “be smarter.” If I give you something that provides information, are you smarter? What is competence? Remember, we are discussing human needs and those needs go deep into your soul. When we discuss competence we have to look at competence as a global idea and not specific to any one person. Competence is about progress and the demonstration, to yourself, of that gained skill. It is one thing to say “I am smart.” It is another thing entirely to feel the power of “I am getting better” or “I am moving forward in my life.” Do not underestimate the power of progress.
When a company culture and mission is defined it is crucial to remember that your employees as well as your audience needs to feel this sense of progress. You MUST message this authentically to them. Companies who have built their brands on consistent, long term, and powerful individual client progress are consistently winners in the marketplace. If you KNOW that you will progress internally because you become a part of a brand’s culture, you will buy more often, spend more, and love every minute of it.
A great example of this style of marketing comes from The Khan Academy where they discuss the growth mindset…
No challenge is too great. No starting point is too far away. 1 step at a time. Never stop growing. Not even a mention of what the Khan Academy is. This video elegantly hits your need of competence and it does it in a way that isn’t intimidating or confusing.
At OPEX, we often hear from coaches that they don’t know how they can differentiate themselves in the marketplace. They want to be different than the gym down the street, they want to provide their clients the best results, and they want the market to KNOW IT! It’s crucial to understand that for the market to “know” that you are better, it takes 2 steps:
As you think about the strategy of how your business will grow you have to have a presence of mind to know that you need to build systems such as sales and marketing, operations, administration, and management. But, you must also be building your internal culture and your external messaging so that your audience FEELS what you are building. It simply isn’t just about the product anymore. Without the entire experience you will struggle to keep your audience engaged. When you build the experience into your business’s culture and then authentically shout that culture to the world you will see bottom line results follow
In the words of Starbuck’s Howard Schultz:
We are not in the coffee business, serving people…We are in the people business, serving coffee.