Beyond customers

Creating value is the epicenter of marketing. But, and this is fundamental, value has to reach beyond customers. There has to be something in it for investors, employees and communities as well.

Michael Porter frames this systems-based view as “shared value.”

Investors want ROI. But, notice the shift in how they are seeking returns from 1995 to 2014 when investment funds incorporating Environmental, Social, and Governance factors (ESG) grew from $12 billion to $4.31 trillion. This is a trend not to be ignored. The marketplace wants to see organizations address environmental challenges that are impacting the economy, get in front of economic consequences of social issues, and show effective controls to ensure investment success. “It’s a no-brainer” to Ben Allen of the Parnassus Core Equity Fund.

Employees deliver on the promises an organization makes to customers. They want to know that their company is helping address issues that matter to them. That poses two questions for your marketing organization: How closely are you connected to Corporate Responsibility and Employee Engagement? And, how equipped is your team to think that way?

Perhaps most importantly, organizations thrive when communities thrive. That’s supply and demand. It makes communities so much more than beneficiaries of corporate philanthropy, which is how they are typically viewed in a business context. Grundfos’ solar-powered hand pumps are a great example. By dramatically improving the supply of water to villages in Africa and India, they support much-needed economic and social development.

What this points to is a marketing renaissance, an exciting time to lead creatively. Your customers, investors, employees and communities will reward you.

Do it. Well.

Sources: Barron’s, FSG,, The Economic Times, US SIF Foundation

© 2015