Why it's time to find your purpose

Johnson & Johnson's marketing and communications chief, Rowena Millward, advocates dropping the traditional four Ps of marketing and embracing new purpose and personality

Marketers have traditionally relied on the four ‘ps’ principle to get their message across to consumers. But brands need to now articulate a clear purpose, engage with personality and promise possibility if they’re to remain relevant in the new age of authenticity and dynamic one-to-one consumer exchange.

That’s the belief of Johnson & Johnson’s senior director of integrated communications/digital for global marketing, Rowena Millward, who spoke at this year’s ADMA Global Forum. She claimed purpose and personality are what motivate the latest generations of consumers, and are therefore the tools modern marketers must use to ensure their brands resonate effectively.

“Yes, Johnson & Johnson is about a range of different products, and there’s lot of great technology and science behind them, but purpose is what unites us as a company,” she told attendees. “Purpose is powerful – there is a lot of data around the performance of purpose, and how it is one of the most critical things in creating equity.”

Millward used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to position how the marketing journey is maturing and the higher creativity level brands should strive for. She added the ‘Mad Men’ era, where brands focused on the fundamentals or benefits of the product or service, are well and truly over.

“There is so much variety out there now, and generally the products are of a high quality and meeting our needs,” she said. “This sea of choice is making it difficult for us to get our messages to consumers.”

On top of that, the plethora of communication channels available are making cut-through even more complicated, Millward said.

“We are in the platinum age of creativity, but we end up doing the same things because there’s so much to do, it’s so hard, there’s so much complexity,” she said. “We have to get out of this mindset and start focusing on what we are doing that really makes a difference.”

Millward advised marketers to embrace a new set of purpose-led four ‘Ps’: Personal; people and relationships; presence; and possibilities.

“When you think about the hierarchy Maslow presented, it starts with function, then emotion, then purpose,” she said. “I’m not saying function is wrong, because there are things we need to communicate about our products. But don’t stop at function and emotion – think about purpose. That’s the part that really helps to differentiate and is critical.”

Video: ADMA Global Forum 2013 round-up

As an example of the personal approach, Millward outlined Johnson & Johnson’s recently successful brand building initiative in China, the iMom Community. As well as social collaboration and information sharing, the program advocated better breastfeeding facilities for working women in China, a major issue with new mums who need to pump and store breast milk while working. The initiative also saw J&J providing courier services to send breast milk home.

The campaign gained significant media coverage, and videos were viewed and shared 11 million times within the first three months. Weibo tweets also increased by 2.5 million, fans increased 700 per cent, likeability increased 27 per cent, and 32,000 working pump stickers were shipped.

Millward said Johnson & Johnson’s purpose was to enable the mother-baby bond and connect around a negative but real situation. “When you’re thinking about purpose, make it deep and personal. This means recognising things are tough, and situations where there’s not always joy,” she advised.

People and relationships is about utilising your partners to improve the message, Millward continued. Presence is ensuring your brand is present and engaged at the right place and the right time.

The final P, possibilities, is about adding opportunity to your purpose. “That potential is something you really want to believe in, that can take you to new places in the future,” Millward said.

To get there, Millward detailed several key steps for marketers:

  • Find your story.
  • Find your filter.
  • Find the ‘why’; what is it he or she really cares about?
  • Show, don’t just tell – engage and be real. Today’s world is not if I believe you, but if I experienced you, Millward said.
  • Remember it’s not all about you. Listen and share purpose. “This is infinitely more powerful than a purpose owned by just a few,”she added.

Other ADMA Global Forum coverage
How the TAB was dragged into the customer age
Why relationship is the new currency for marketers
How to navigate the data analytics path
Marketers are trapped in an operational mindset: Nestle’s CMO
Marketers must transform their story:McKinsey

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