For some reason I inherited a trait of thinking I can do everything myself. Unfortunately, I see that this has also been inherited by one of my children. It can be mistaken so easily as resourcefulness and an ‘amazing capacity’ to get stuff done, but in truth, it’s a nasty little trait whose best friend is pride.
Luckily, I’ve spent much of my career helping organisations develop partnerships and collaborations with others. In cases, it has been to gain more capital growth for the business, but at best it has been about welcoming others in to collaborate and grow something greater than one could do alone.
As I hope you’ve recognised in my previous articles, brand purpose is a core foundation in business growth as it invites a collective into a brand, each sharing in a common good. It therefore can scale through organic growth and be developed through intentional culture and content investment. But here we ask a harder question:
Can you invite another organisation in to share purpose together? And if so, what might this look like? Let’s explore this…
Sharing is caring… especially for your customers
Purpose creates action. Otherwise, it would remain an empty idea. Your purpose has the power to transform your internal culture, and the influence to create life-long customers. Though many assume actioning purpose requires more internal resources and time, but surprisingly few look outside themselves for more effective ways to help embed and grow purpose. What if there was an alternative that enabled brand growth, saved you the overheads on staff, gave you greater reach, and provided you greater credibility with your customers? I believe the answer is developing purpose-driven partnerships.
Purpose-driven partnerships are smart. One of the core principles of purpose is that it is a common good shared by many. Therefore purpose is rarely a niche but instead is more universal. This is what makes it a powerful connector. Purpose opens up a new world of opportunities, where organisations can unify around a common purpose but both offer their customers unique products and services.
This unity allows a business to invest in what they can do well, while expanding their reach and impact through partnerships linked to achieving a greater purpose. It could look like partnering with another who develops a different tool, works with a different audience, offers another product or service, or contributes different skills. But it has tremendous impact upon your customers also.
I remember back in 2015 early in the Syrian Refugee Crisis, seeing a partnership between Sesame Street and a large NGO which delivered TickleMe Elmo’s to aid social psychology programs for young children displaced. The impact of this partnership and the expanding of resources saw this project have a tremendous impact on young lives. It was a clear example of how two organisations, sharing a common purpose, can work together. What was even more amazing though was the reaction by the community of donors and Sesame Street fans. For them, seeing these two organisations working together only strengthened their customer base and also developed new cross-over sales in a genuine manner.
What gets in the way?
So why isn’t this common practise? Why are we seeing companies ignore growth opportunities through partnership or only looking to their own resources for growth? I see it coming down to two things:
- A singular focus on ’proving’ themselves
- Big fish/small fish mentality
The first was my issue. Is it yours too? This is why purpose is the great leveller, as true purpose is always greater than one individual or one organisation. (If you haven’t read the previous article on culture and brand growth then do it now). But if I were to ask whether your HR department trains employees to develop partnerships outside the business, or do your managers have key objectives and results around growing partnerships through purpose-allies? – would I be met with silent stares? Is your growth being limited because your business is trying to ‘prove themselves’ and in doing so is missing the greater opportunity?
The second issue requires a change in mindset. I’ve worked and consulted for companies where you quickly realise they don’t share. It comes via a warped assumption that organisational size = organisational impact. The big fish in the pond look at the little fish and wonder what they could offer. Our journey through Covid has challenged this thinking as it created a level playing field for many, where the more agile and adaptable you could be, the better. This big-fish/little-fish mentality stops many organisations finding unique and innovative solutions that could expand their impact and bring new perspectives in living out their purpose.
The impact on your customers
The true impact in developing purpose-driven partnerships is actually found in your customers. In our current climate, the message and practise of unity and collaboration could not be more valued. When your customers see that their purchases enhance the ability to achieve purpose in collaborative ways, it not only builds trust and thankfulness but it also welcomes them in as a participant. Developing purpose-driven partnerships therefore connect three parties together, enabling greater trust, growth, and impact.
5 Tips for purpose-driven partnerships
So here are 6 ideas to get you thinking about partnership development:
- Explain your purpose in under 20secs to someone, and ask them if they were moved
- Write down 20 organisations that have a similar purpose but offer something different to you. (This exercise will make you think and dream of the possibilities)
- Find 3 areas of your business that another could do better than you
- Survey your customers to see who they would like you to partner with (purpose says “give them a voice”)
- Assess your current partnerships, and ask “Are they helping us achieve our purpose?” Or are they just there out of convenience?
- Email 5 companies you’d like to work with, leading with your purpose alignment
Helping businesses’ and organisations action their purpose is a core reason we developed our Impact Program. It sees for-purpose companies develop partnerships with not-for-profits whose purposes align for greater impact. As we consult with numerous organisations on both sides of the coin, we see the growth opportunities great partnerships can produce. If you’re interested to explore how to share your purpose with other like-minded organisations to grow your impact then get in touch.