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Purpose-focused Storytelling

Benevity: 8 Tools for Purpose-focused Storytelling

During Russell Sparkman’s presentation at the Benevity Goodness Matters 2018 conference, Sparkman shared how the hormone, or neurostransmitter, oxytocin contributes to social bonding, building trusting relationship and inspiring giving.

For businesses that want to strengthen bonds, build trust and inspire giving or purchase of products and services, communicating about purpose through storytelling is an effective approach to building that kind of engagement.

Since storytelling is a creative process, and therefore inherently subjective, how can business consistently evaluate, design and produce storytelling that has the greatest chance of success?

Sparkman’s answer is to begin by answering the question “What’s Our Purpose?”

Sparkman then recommends evaluating the answers to that question with the following “tools.” If each of these is addressed in the content or storytelling solution, it increases the chance of the content achieving desired outcomes:

Your mission and purpose are transactional. Purpose is the transcendental. For example, what is the great spiritual reason for your business? This is closely related to answering the question “why?”.

Purpose can be about your core values, and about providing practical value. When a company such as Nationwide Insurance produces an initiative such as MakeSafeHappen.com, their content is supporting the core value purpose of protecting children while providing practical value content in the form of safety tips.

You purpose is uniquely yours, not easily replicated, providing you with competitive advantage. When a consumer brand such as REI closes stores on Black Friday and creates a campaign around called #GetOutside, they take ownership of the value of spending time outside with family and friends in a very unique way.

Purpose must be a shared value with employees and customers. The spirit of giving that drives the development of the Benevity platform, and the use of it by its customers, is an example of this.

Your purpose is part of the conversation about your brand and your culture. The most ardent fans of companies such as Ben and Jerry’s or Patagonia talk about those companies support of issues in addition to their products.

Purpose is about showing that you care. Nike ambassadors program in which employees are trained to give sports coaching and mentoring to youth is an example of caring.

It’s not enough to be trustworthy. You have to be meaningful, too. Dove’s Self-esteem initiative is a great example of a brand providing meaning to people’s lives, beyond selling cleansing products.

Purpose is about improving lives, while improving the bottom line. Businesses are increasingly being called upon to play a role in addressing social concerns while in the pursuit of profitable business goals.