There wasn’t a smile in the room. No one dared make eye contact. We were sitting in a P&G sales meeting listening to why our market share had fallen to #2 versus Colgate. This had never happened before, and according to the wildly frustrated VP at the front of the room, there would be hell to pay if it were to ever happen again.
The brand team rolled out their new in-store displays, the account teams announced new discounting and the ad agency showed the new line of commercials … all proving that Crest did in fact make teeth brighter and whiter versus the competition. Then, out of no where, an irreverent kid in the back of the room raised his hand, stood up and cleared his throat.
“Excuse me, but instead of discounting, why don’t we give away a small tube of toothpaste to a family in need for every tube our customers buy? Why don’t we connect our customers emotionally with our brand and forever differentiate ourselves from the competition?”
Silence. Complete silence followed … until the VP shook his head, continued on his rant and moved to the next slide in his “we must be better, faster, cheaper” powerpoint presentation.
Better, faster, cheaper has had its day. That day is over. Today’s companies need to stand for something larger than just the products they sell … something that defines purpose, communicates conviction and inspires a new generation of employees with a sense of meaning. Companies devoted to profit as well as larger missions are winning … winning RFPs, winning the battle for talent and winning the hearts and minds of consumers.
What is your differentiation? What is your mission? What is your conviction?
Ghandi called out for each of us to “be the change you want to see in the world” yet most of us live in a short-term, extraction-based mentality during the day (better, faster, cheaper) and only turn our attention to the quality of our communities and planet at night. What if each of our companies embraced a mission of being cleaner, greener, safer, friendlier? What if we woke up every morning inspired to go to work because we knew what we were doing made our homes, our communities, our cities, our surroundings a whole lot cleaner, greener, safer, friendlier?
People are in search for meaning. People want to be a part of something that makes a difference. People want to work for something that matters. I’m sorry but better, faster, cheaper just doesn’t turn people on, it doesn’t make better communities … and it just isn’t going to change our world.
What if every company in Edmonton had the mission and the conviction to make every day a little bit cleaner, greener, safer, friendlier? What would happen to our brand if the world knew every company in Edmonton was working to make things a bit cleaner, greener, safer, friendlier? What if we embedded a larger purpose into our business models and established a bit of humanity alongside the products and services we sell?
Sorry for raising my hand. I’ll sit back down now. You can continue with the same powerpoint presentation as last year.