Smart Energy Voices - Episode 4

Smart Energy Voices - Episode 4

The Purpose Driven Organization with Jeff Fromm and David Smart

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It’s not uncommon these days to hear talk of businesses, large and small, developing a purpose statement that has to do with its societal responsibility. Consumers are coming to expect brands to take such a stance as well. Why is that and how should business leaders think about it? But a more important question is this: How does the issue of organizational purpose magnify and support what is happening in the renewable energy movement?

To answer that question, Smart Energy Decisions founder, John Failla invited author and consumer expert Jeff Fromm to discuss the issue, along with David Smart, Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing at BioStar Renewables, a company that’s taking this issue of “purpose” very seriously with Jeff’s help. This is an enlightening and helpful conversation that you’re sure to enjoy.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • The concept of doing well by doing good [0:56]
  • How Jeff became the leading researcher on younger consumer behavior [5:24]
  • The level of detail necessary to define a company’s purpose [12:10]
  • Why it was important for BioStar to establish a relationship with Jeff’s work [15:46]
  • Business “wins” that happened because of BioStar's commitment to renewables [24:28]
  • Why Jeff created a “workbook” style resource instead of a typical research-based book [28:40]
  • The first steps at identifying and defining your company’s purpose [31:45]

Purpose is a rapidly growing part of what consumers want in a brand

Jeff Fromm’s research into the consumer behavior of generational groups has revealed that a brand’s broader purpose and the messaging around it make a HUGE difference to consumers. He says there’s a very clear and careful balancing act that organizations must be aware of. If your brand is only focused on purpose and sustainability without also being careful to produce an excellent product or service that consumers appreciate, you are going to fail. But if you are only good at that product or service and do not have a clear and well-communicated purpose and sustainability strategy infused into your brand and business, you’re not going to have the most profitable financial outcomes.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that this two-factor brand identification drives consumer support, but take note: One important aspect of that is the issue of sustainability. Jeff says that consumers today are willing to pay a small premium for brands that win their hearts. But there they must also be careful that they are using purpose metaphorically as a verb. Consumers don’t care so much about what you say, they care about what you do. Companies that are taking action appeal to both internal audiences and external stakeholders. High-growth brands have to do both.

What is the purpose? The BioStar Renewables journey toward projects that match their purpose

In developing its purpose strategy the team at BioStar was so impressed with Jeff’s approach they adopted it for developing their own purpose strategy. Using the workbook in Jeff’s Book, The Purpose Advantage, the team worked through the process of defining their purpose and feels it has helped them in a variety of ways. Here’s an example…

BioStar Renewables works with many organizations around the issue of financing for their project. As a result, relationships the company has with various banks, lenders, and insurance companies open doors to many deals for BioStar. With so many projects coming their way, they have to be selective. The question, “What is the purpose of this project?” helps the company sift through the opportunities and focus on the ones that will best align with its purpose as a company. It’s a great asset to know that they are putting their best effort toward their predefined “best” types of projects and saying ”No, thank you” to the rest.

How brands can leverage a genuine purpose with consumers

There are unique opportunities for brands to use their commitment to renewable energy to expand their offerings and profitability and to be more competitive in their niche. Jeff says that the energy category and related adjacencies have a particularly bright future because consumer expectations around the issue of renewable energy are growing. People are fed up with delays and lack of movement when it comes to the energy transition and are looking to companies to move the needle forward.

When consumers have the opportunity to buy from companies that support the causes they care about, they often will. Consider this: when the price difference between products or services is small and the availability is the same, many consumers will choose the brand that aligns with their convictions. It’s a trend and is only expected to grow. The renewable energy commitments of brands are one of the areas consumers consider these days when making purchasing decisions.

There are many facets of this intriguing conversation that we can’t cover in a page this small. Please, take the time to listen. You may discover how your brand can pivot to become more relevant, more top-of-mind, and more desirable to the very audience you’re trying to reach.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Jeff Fromm and David Smart

About Jeff Fromm: Partner at Barkley and 4x Author

Jeff Fromm is a Partner at Barkley where he serves as President of FutureCast, weekly contributor at FORBES and author of four books including The Purpose Advantage (Idea Press, 2019), Marketing to Millennials (Harper Collins, 2013), Millennials with Kids (Harper Collins, 2015) and Marketing to Gen Z (Harper Collins, 2018). He published the first public research study of Millennials as Consumers with the Boston Consulting Group in 2010 & 2011. He has traveled the world sharing insights on consumer trends, youth culture as well as purpose & sustainability.

In addition to Jeff’s work consulting with major brands at Barkley he serves on the Board of Directors at Three Dog Bakery.

About David Smart: Biostar Renewables

David is Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing and oversees the strategic development of energy efficiency projects, renewable energy assets and energy financing transactions across all BioStar sectors. With an extensive understanding of state/federal policy and incentives, David spearheads complex opportunities, helping his team navigate high-level negotiations, while delivering maximum value to customers in the public and private sector.

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