We have some tough news to share with you, so let’s just rip the band-aid right off.  By default, customers don’t care about your brand. 

But that, my friend, is how marketing was born.  Businesses have been battling each other for years, attempting to master the latest proven tactic that will guarantee them the customer attention they crave.  Over time, as you may imagine, many of these strategies have become less and less effective, mostly because of disruption.

Print, radio, television, corporate sponsorships, digital display, email marketing and social media, to name a few, have all evolved over time to adjust to the disruption and changing landscape.  What may have worked for your business a few years ago likely no longer provides the same return today.

Are we saying you should stop using any of these marketing channels?  Absolutely not.  Some or all of these can and should play an important role in the marketing mix.  What we are saying is that you should not build your business upon any of these as a marketing foundation with the high probability that sooner than later, the rug will get pulled out from under you.

Instead, we recommend you go a layer deeper and begin by asking yourself this question:  What’s my business’ purpose?  Take money out of the equation for just a moment and think about what good your business will do in the world.

There is one constant that has always been there and will always be there:  A customer’s connection and affinity for brands that support a cause for which they share passion. According to Kantar Consulting’s new Purpose 2020 research, brands stand to grow at twice the rate of those without any higher-order societal aim.  Brands like Patagonia, The North Face, TOMS, and Chipotle have consistently supported societal initiatives over the long term to the point where that message is permanently associated with the brand.  The good these companies do is as top of mind as the products they sell.

In the high school space, the National Federation of State High School Associations launched a powerful campaign titled “My Reason Why.” It features videos of students giving their reasons why they participate in high school sports and activities and furthermore, the campaign provides data and backup on why students and society greatly benefits from this. 

But perhaps the group of people that need to ask themselves this same question are the Chief Marketing Officers that work for regional and national brands.  What is Your Reason Why?

For any brands that target families, moms and/or teens, I can’t think of a better purpose alignment opportunity than high school sports and activities.  It’s not only a space that means something to those who participate, but it is also widely celebrated, and held in high regard by the entire school community.

In professional and collegiate sports, sponsorship has become so commonplace that it has crept into nearly every aspect of the game.  In 2017, sponsors spent over $3.5 billion with the four major leagues.   However, there has not been a single brand that has yet to step forward, make a stand and plant their flag as the presenting sponsor of high school sports and activities nationwide.  A long-term commitment to support high school sports & activities would help positively impact millions of lives, while reaching a comparable number of fans as a professional sports sponsorship.

One final question, Brands.  What is Your Reason Why Not?