The other day I was running a few errands and noticed that my car needed fuel. There were two filling stations just ahead--both with the same price, on the same side of the road and conveniently within 100 yards of each other. I thought to myself, "Which one do I go to?" Almost subconsciously, I chose the one whose brand I haven’t heard mentioned in conjunction with negative environmental issues or an oil spill.
Why do I bring this up? Because, like most consumers, I prefer to do business with a company that seems to value the same things that I do, especially when all else is equal. It’s simple: I’d rather do business with organizations that do the right things, that aspire to the same values that I hold dear.
Consumer research tells us I’m not the only one. People prefer to do business with a company that has a higher purpose than one that does not. And with the next generation currently increasing their own spending power, that sentiment is only going to grow.
I believe this philosophy holds true for business in the channel. It’s the reason that this year’s SAP Global Partner Summit was themed around “Partnership with Purpose.” The theme was not just picked arbitrarily by my team because it sounds good. At SAP, it’s because we have a higher purpose. While the right solution, features, expertise and cost are all important considerations, that’s not all that today’s buyer looks for.
Just as when I completed the mundane transaction of purchasing gas, consumers want to feel good about their purchase. They want to support an organization that is dedicated to corporate social responsibility. And they want to work with someone who will help them find efficient ways to give back, as well.
According to a recent study by EY, “Organizations that demonstrate a higher-purpose are in a better position to innovate. 63% of executives believe that having a sense of purpose made them a more innovative company.”
Brand with Purpose
SAP is focused on telling our brand story in a more consistent way, and the company overall is focused on being purpose-driven, as seen in our recent award-winning commercial with Clive Owen and demonstrated by our recognition on People Magazine’s list of “50 Companies that Care.” (SAP is No. 9.)
Of course, we still talk about cloud, innovation and ERP. But, now, the industry acronym ERP belongs to an NGO called Elephants, Rhinos, & People, which uses SAP HANA and an SAP Leonardo IoT Framework to help protect wildlife endangered by poachers in South Africa.
This past April, in honor of Earth Day, SAP CEO Bill McDermott appeared on the U.S. TV show "Good Morning America" to discuss how SAP’s sustainability commitment is helping the world run better and improve people’s lives. SAP will plant 40,000 trees in 193 countries, and by 2025 we will plant 5 million more across the globe. Five million trees. That’s not just hot air--that’s a lot of oxygen.
Brand Strategy Essentials
If you’re thinking this sounds nice, but still wondering whether this stuff is important, let me assure you it is!
According to a recent article by the Huffington Post, corporate social responsibility (CSR) goes hand in glove with a smart business strategy--consumers vote with their wallets, supporting companies that demonstrate concern for employee welfare, community development, environmental sustainability and human rights.
Purpose also has a positive impact on the bottom line.
“Purpose-driven companies experienced an increase of 20% in sales and 6% in share price.”
The article also notes that companies of all sizes are quickly learning that social responsibility is a contemporary business imperative, with two out of three midsize business owners seeking to improve community engagement.
Here are some tips on how you can help strengthen your purpose-driven brand:
- Have you already helped your customers transform their businesses in a way that positively impacts society or the environment? If so, create a customer success story and market it.
- Be sure to look beyond the basic needs of your customer, offering consultative guidance on budget-friendly improvements they can incorporate now and in the future.
- Make sure your own organization is continually finding ways to give back, and develop an ongoing campaign to promote it broadly.
- Remember, purpose is not only about the environment and endangered species. It’s also about how we help the world by contributing to the economy and finding solutions to changes in industry.
Partnering with Purpose
Consumers expect a commitment to improving people’s lives, achieved through economic, environmental and societal progress. Enabled by our partners and SAP technology, our customers are on the front lines. Their stories showcase our enduring purpose “to help the world run better and improve people’s lives,” and our promise “to innovate to help our customers run at their best.”
Ira Simon (follow me on Twitter - @IraASimon) is global vice president, Partner & SME Marketing at SAP. Learn more about partnership opportunities at: http://go.sap.com/partner.html.
This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.