Marketers Need More Purpose in 2017

By Bruce Temkin | 1.24.17

In my first post on MKTGinsight, I want to challenge marketers to be more purposeful. Over the past several years left brain skills such as analytics and targeting have substantially improved marketing effectiveness. Now it’s time to augment the marketing toolkit with a right brain concept: purpose. 


Every year, Temkin Group highlights one theme that we think will be particularly important for companies in the coming year. Last year we focused on Emotion, in 2015 we focused on Employees, and in 2014 we focused on Empathy. And now, in 2017, we are focusing on Purpose.


Why “purpose,” you might ask? At Temkin Group we’ve always been passionate about what drives and motivates human beings—regardless of whether they’re leaders, employees, or customers. Over the past year we’ve observed leaders beginning to recognize the role that purpose plays in motivating employees and customers, and we see leaders beginning to explicitly connect the purpose of their organization to the purpose of their people.


Purpose is powerful. It provides a context around all that we do, which alters our feelings, beliefs, and actions. A strong sense of purpose can:


  • Inspire us to find joy in our lives

  • Energize us with a sense of hope

  • Propel us to overcome obstacles

  • Uplift us to feel good about ourselves

  • Connect us with others around a shared goal


We believe that feelings of uncertainty around the world are prompting each of us to look for more purpose and meaning in our own lives. So, it’s a great time for marketers to tap into the power of purpose. Here are three ideas for making it happen in your work:


  1. Deliver on customer promises. What are the implicit and explicit promises that your brand is making to customers? Find ways to demonstrate that you are living up to those promises.

  2. Expose your organizational values. What’s special about your organization beyond the feature and benefits of its offerings? Communicate those unique items to customers and to employees, as well.

  3. Make emotional connections. What do your customers really care about? Find ways to make an impact in your customers’ lives beyond generating interest or purchase. Think about how you can make customers feel confident and cared for.


Purpose is personal
When Temkin Group discusses purpose, we’re focused not only on how a person interacts with a company, but also on what provides meaning in that person’s daily life. Now more than ever, the feelings of uncertainty around the world are prompting each of us to look for more purpose and meaning in our own lives. So I urge you to think about the things that bring you the most meaning to your life, and find ways to focus more time and energy in those areas.


If I’ve motivated you to focus on purpose, then I urge you to visit, where you’ll find resources and can share your ideas. Help Temkin Group to make this “The Year of Purpose.”


In 2017, I challenge marketers to tap into the power of purpose in their work and in their lives.

About the Author

Bruce Temkin is managing partner and customer experience transformist at Temkin Group. Widely viewed as a customer experience visionary, he is also the Chairman Emeritus and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association.


Bruce’s research focuses on identifying current and emerging best practices. He uses this insight to advise companies on their customer experience journeys, identifying opportunities for sustainable breakthrough performance. Bruce is the author of the blog Customer Experience Matters® which is one of the most popular blogs on customer experience.

Prior to Temkin Group, Bruce spent 12 years with Forrester Research, during

which time he led the company’s financial services, e-business, and customer experience practices. He also held management positions at General Electric, Fidelity Investments, and Stratus Computers.


Bruce is a highly demanded public speaker and is widely quoted in the press. He is a Certified Customer Experience Professional.