If you want to make progress, focus on your purpose 

Some people believe progress comes from more resources, wiser allocation, increased efficiency, more favorable economics, or better technology. None of these are bad things, in fact, all of them are helpful when pursuing progress.

But progress requires more than the right set of resources and circumstances. Progress requires the resources to be used wisely—in the right way and for the right reasons. Merriam-Webster defines progress as, “a forward or onward movement (as to an objective or a goal)” or “gradual betterment.” What does it mean to get to the root of progress? What is the most foundational piece to making progress every day?

In marketing, progress is defined by growth in lead acquisition, sales revenue and brand recognition, often trying to manage the ideal balance between those three strategic initiatives. C-level executives strive to set strategic, measurable goals for the organization that trickle down to the CMO, Marketing Directors and Product Managers to interpret into strategic, measurable goals for their products or services.

For example, let’s say Company A’s strategic planning process produces a three-year plan that includes a goal to increase revenue by 10% each year. The Marketing Director would review that strategic plan and marketing analytics to determine the best path to contribute to that goal. He or she may determine that 60% of the new revenue could come from expanding services to existing clients. That would inform a goal for the marketing department which would then provide guidance on tactics and budgets needed to reach that goal.

Does that mean an organization’s goals then become the foundational piece that makes progress possible? I believe it goes deeper than that. I believe progress is ultimately driven by purpose. Going back to the original definition, progress not only involves having a goal but also includes “betterment.” An organization must be making incremental improvements to be making progress. However, in order to know that it is making improvements, it needs to know the ultimate purpose for that improvement. There must be a destination. In the example of Company A, the Marketing Director must consider how the company’s purpose aligns with the revenue goals to choose the right marketing goals and drive the creative.

As Jimmy Dean said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Any improvement goal set is a good goal with the potential to make progress, however goals with a purpose have a greater impact. A goal must aim toward a purpose because, as any marketing leader has experienced, the wind WILL shift and take the team in a new direction. If the team doesn’t know the purpose, they can’t adjust their sails to reach the destination.

Look at Patagonia. In September 2022 the Chouinard family transferred ownership of the company to two organizations for the sole reason of helping the company continue to move forward in its purpose no matter what happens to ownership in the future. They wanted to ensure that nothing would stand in the way of their core values, including shareholder expectations. It was another step forward from Patagonia’s declaration in 2018 that they are in business to save our planet. This was not just a decision that was made to move along with current social trends, but something that has been ingrained in the company’s culture since it began. As Yvon Chouinard states on the Patagonia website, early in the company’s history, “Patagonia committed to using [their] company to change the way business was done. If [they] could do the right thing while making enough to pay the bills, [they] could influence customers and other businesses, and maybe change the system along the way.” That is what continues to drive them today.

Which is why I believe progress fundamentally comes from purpose. Arriving at where you want to be is ultimately guided by knowing why you want to be there.

At Pace Marketing, our purpose is to help determined business owners expand their resources to accelerate growth. Our purpose is to be a partner in progress. Therefore, we only win if and when our clients win. Clarifying our purpose has given us the ability to make progress with our partners and provides a foundation for every decision we make as a company.

We recently began a project redesigning a client’s website. After a couple of weeks we realized the platform they were utilizing, while sophisticated, was not going to fit their needs. So, we put our heads together, did some digging, and mid-project offered a new web solution to our client at no cost to them. In fact, this new solution is going to save them money! They said, “Yes,” and we said, “PIVOT!” in our best Ross Gellar impersonation.

Why change directions mid-project? Why risk a little profit margin? Because we have clarity on our purpose. We happily made the pivot, because we believe so much in helping our clients pursue progress in a way that aligns best with their organization’s strategy that it is one of our corporate values.

We have seen our most successful clients strive for progress by pursuing it with purpose. No good Marketing Director wants their revenue to remain stagnant. However, the most successful marketing executives are keeping the organization’s purpose top-of-mind. They are defining why they do what they do and then allowing that purpose to drive the who, what, where and how in their marketing plan.

Most organizations are trying to balance limited financial and staff resources with the need to increase brand exposure to target personas. The digital age has created an over-abundance of marketing opportunities but has also diluted the effectiveness of each message. What used to be the rule of 7, creating 7 touches to turn prospects into customers, is now thought to be more like 13. Combine the modern marketing environment with the Project Management Institute’s statistic that nearly 10% of every dollar is lost to poor project performance and the need for purpose, even at the project level, is highlighted even more. Circumstances are rapidly changing. Resources are always limited. In spite of that challenge I believe you can still make progress, if you focus on purpose. But how?

Defining the purpose of each activity and creating specific, measurable goals around that purpose allows a marketer to:

  1. Align marketing leadership and their teams on the purpose and expectations around each activity
  2. Create boundaries to help prevent scope creep and determine what is in or out when the wind shifts
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of each activity
  4. Connect the individual project to larger organizational purpose and goals

This certainly drives large strategic marketing initiatives, but it can and should also be a driver at the individual project level. Time is precious. Resources are precious. So why would you spend time and money on a marketing project that doesn’t contribute to organizational progress? You wouldn’t! But we all have when we’ve lost sight of the purpose.

Defining the purpose of each project isn’t hard, but it will cause you to slow down and think through the demands on your plate so you can make more meaningful progress. Even if you can only take 15 minutes to try this on your next project, it will be worth it. For a framework to help you get started, download our free tool, the 1-Page Project Planner. Here’s to progress!

Recent Posts

The Top 7 Problems that Can Kill a Product Launch

Of all the missteps that can give a company a black eye, a failed product launch surely tops the list. This is especially true for products that have a long development cycle: Medical devices, pharmaceuticals, advanced software, etc. Nothing is more frustrating than developing and testing a product for years,

Read More »

How to Get Started with Advertising (Online and Offline)

Advertising seems deceptively simple. A creative person creates an ad, and then you pay someone—a magazine, a radio station, Facebook, Google, a billboard owner—to run your ad. If that was all there is to it, getting started with advertising would be simple. But of course it isn’t that simple, because

Read More »

Finding “Holes” in Your Marketing Framework

There are many ways to conceive of and organize marketing activities. One of our favorites is our marketing framework, which tracks customer journeys against marketing goals and tools in place. Whereas many marketing firms think of these journeys as forming a funnel, we think of them as being hourglass shaped,

Read More »

We and selected third parties use cookies or similar technologies for technical purposes and, with your consent, for other purposes. You can consent to the use of such technologies by using the “Accept” button, by closing this notice, by scrolling this page, by interacting with any link or button outside of this notice or by continuing to browse otherwise.