|By Harry Trott||
|March 16, 2016 08:44 AM EDT||
You may have been hearing the term "mind share" (or "mindshare," depending on whom you ask) a lot over the past year. While it's being talked about more often, the concept goes back a millennium to the very first businesses. Think about searching the internet. Do you simply search the internet or do 'google it'? How about when you get injured? If you're like the vast majority of people, you ask for a Band-Aid, not a bandage. These are two prime examples of successful mind share. Google and Band-Aid established their names so thoroughly in the minds of consumers that the brands became synonymous with the products they represented.
One of the most effective ways to anchor your mind-share efforts is contained in a simple, but powerful word: purpose. It's more than just a buzzword thrown around by motivational speakers or plastered on self-help books. Purpose is integral to a successful business. It not only keeps everyone motivated to push past setbacks and conquer obstacles, it also helps attract and retain customers. Shoppers are looking for companies whose values align with their own. Putting your organization's purpose front and center makes a statement about who you are, what you want to achieve in the marketplace, and how you plan to accomplish your goals. That statement helps the market for your goods or services find its way to you.
Define Your Purpose and Embody It
Fast Company recently profiled several entrepreneurs who successfully leveraged the burning desires that motivated them to go into business in the first place as means to connect with their intended customers. Among them is Tristan Walker, who took a lifelong frustration and turned it into a life-changing purpose driving a thriving company.
Walker, who founded Walker & Co., a health and beauty brand focused on the unique grooming and makeup needs of people of color, was prompted by a co-worker's unflattering critique of his facial-hair maintenance. Like many black men, Walker had found it difficult throughout his adult life to find razors that handled his facial hair without causing discomfort and painful, potentially scarring ingrown hairs. The embarrassment he felt when called out by his co-worker drove Walker to form a small, core group tasked with finding a solution to the shaving problem faced by black men, culminating in the Bevel shaving system.
The product gained impressive brand loyalty and a spot on Target store shelves. Walker says his focus in growing his business is solidly on the core values - the purpose - that inspired him to start up. He believes that consistently expressing the company's purpose to consumers and inviting them to take part in shaping the development of the business are the keys to establishing the mind share that will fuel Walker & Co.'s growth.
Another example can be found in a name you just might know: Walt Disney. As related in this Huffington Post article on thought leadership, an integral element of building mind share, Disney was so fueled by his sense of purpose that he couldn't stop evangelizing others with his vision even as he lay dying. The article focuses on a famous anecdote from former dean of Disney University Mike Vance, from his leadership manual, Think Out of the Box, in which he describes an audience Disney granted to a persistent journalist during his final days.
According to Vance, Disney was too frail at this point to stand or even sit up on his own. The famously demanding visionary could no longer speak loudly enough to be heard from more than a few feet away. However weak he may have become physically, the strength of his purpose remained palpable. He beckoned the journalist close, so close he ended up lying in the hospital bed with Disney, who then spend half an hour describing in detail the splendor he imagined for the Walt Disney World theme park.
The power of Disney's sense of purpose fueled others to take up his uncompleted dream and build the park, completing it after the death of the animation pioneer. Now, of course, Disney is a name synonymous with animated film and Walt Disney World remains the gold standard against which all amusement parks are compared.
Do Your Research
As you set out to build a business rooted in a strong, driving purpose, research could also prove invaluable. Experts in the field such as Warren Stephenshave long recommended their clients engage in market analysis to identify consumer segments likely to resonate with their organizations' core values. Consulting with financial services firms with experience conducting this kind of research could be useful as you seek to establish purpose-driven connections with likely customers.
Purpose Fuels Connection
A clear purpose is as important in business as in any other facet of life. Not only does it keep you motivated, but also it keeps your customers motivated to support your brand. When your reason to exist is on open display and is pursued with passion, it forms a bond with like-minded people who want what you're selling. That connection could help you win the battle for mind share.
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